On rare occasions, I have felt like I could have sworn that I saw something repeat before my eyes, like the same person walking past me twice. I have also had the experience of, say, thinking about an old movie and later that day/week that movie appears in an online ad. Odd little things like these are at the heart of Rodney Ascher's documentary A Glitch in the Matrix, where he wonders whether or not we might all actually be living in a computer simulation.
This documentary is a bit scattershot, often coming off as kind of silly as computer nerds contemplate alternate realities. But then when the discussion lands on serious subjects, it feels like a different, and better, documentary entirely.
A Glitch in the Matrix relies a lot on the musings of late science fiction author Philip K. Dick, whose work (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, A Scanner Darkly) often questioned the nature of reality and identity. Ascher, however, doesn't really come up with any compelling evidence, but the film is watchable, if generally superficial. Things change later on, however, when the film takes a dark turn and becomes more engaging. This section of the documentary concerns a lonely and mentally ill young man who became obsessed with the 1999 movie The Matrix to a chilling and tragic degree.
A Glitch in the Matrix is playing at The Prytania Theatres at Canal Place and is available to rent on various online streaming services.
** ½ (Out of Four)