Inherent Vice

"Good"

Inherent Vice Review


Like the Thomas Pynchon novel it's based on, this film remains infuriatingly evasive as its central mystery deepens. Also like Pynchon, writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson is more interested in characters than plot, expertly orchestrating a lively cast in a series of raucous scenes. That these moments never quite add up to a coherent bigger story may feel unsatisfying, but the groovy 1970s vibe is infectious, and there's a lot of fun to be had in watching these actors play around with the rambling dialogue and nutty interaction.

It's set in 1970 Los Angeles, where private investigator Doc (Joaquin Phoenix) is a stoner who'd rather not work at all. Then he agrees to help his ex-girlfriend Shasta (Katherine Waterston) find her missing property developer boyfriend Mickey (Eric Roberts). But this immediately puts him on a collision course with his long-time nemesis, Detective Bjornsen (James Brolin), a frozen-banana loving tough-guy cop known as Bigfoot. And the deeper Doc gets into the case, the more confusing it gets. Not only is the presumed-dead Coy (Owen Wilson) very much alive, but it's unclear whether a key clue about Golden Fang refers to a boat or a secret dental society. And suspiciously, Doc's DA friend Penny (Reese Witherspoon) always seems to be one step ahead of him on the case.

Anderson opens the film with a blinding flood of information and then simply never allows us to catch up, so like Doc we can't quite get a grip on what's actually going on. This effectively makes us feel as stoned as he is, bewildered by the way even the simplest revelations seem to contradict each other. But even as everything gets increasingly confusing, Anderson writes and directs scenes with a vivid intensity that's both hilariously entertaining and darkly involving. Each sequence carries a powerful punch, giving the superb cast plenty of quirky details to work with.

Phoenix holds the film together as the hilariously ramshackle Doc, but it's Brolin who steals the show. Bigfoot is the film's best-defined character, a blunt, obsessed thug trying to have a normal family life when he's not working. And Martin Short has the funniest role as a drug-pushing dentist. But then, the film has no shortage of colourfully wacky characters delivering amusingly fast-paced dialogue. So even though it never comes together into anything meaningful, it's a lot of fun to watch. This is a movie about atmosphere, and Anderson is terrific at hitting vivid moments of comedy, suspense, sexual tension and even some horror. But it would be nice to end up with even a vague idea about what was going on.

Inherent Vice Trailer

 



Inherent Vice

Facts and Figures

Genre: Comedy

Run time: 148 mins

In Theaters: Friday 9th January 2015

Box Office USA: $1.0M

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Production compaines: Ghoulardi Film Company, Warner Bros.

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Fresh: 59 Rotten: 24

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Doc Sportello, as Bigfoot Bjornsen, as Coy Harlingen, as Shasta Fay Hepworth, as Penny, as Sauncho Smilax, as Hope Harlingen, as Petunia Leeway, as Dr. Rudy Blatnoyd, as Crocker Fenway, as Japonica Fenway, as Mickey Wolfmann, as Tariq Khalil, as Sortilège, as Aunt Reet, as Sloane Wolfmann, Hong Chau as Jade, Christopher Allen Nelson as Glenn Charlock, as Agent Flatweed, as Agent Borderline, as Chlorinda, Christian Williams as Smedley

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