The one character whose function in the story suggests a true identity is Schreber, who could have provided a surer foothold for audience identification. But either Proyas or Sutherland (or both) made the odd decision to have Schreber be the least real character of all. It's hardly the actor's best work: Schreber limps around with a twisted face, an accent, and an unnatural, contraction-free mode of speech, like some kind of over-the-top mixture of Peter Lorre, Oscar Homolka, and Dwight Frye in a grade-Z horror movie. It's not clear whether the portrayal is supposed to be funny, but funny it is.
This all said, Dark City is immensely entertaining, as well as visually dazzling; the film's look is something like The Crow, but even more imaginative. Proyas has obviously looked long and hard at a wide range of foreign films, most obviously The City of Lost Children and Zentropa. He's assimilated their influences into his own idiosyncratic version of an American-style noir.
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