Inherent Vice

D: Paul Thomas Anderson
Warner Bros/IAC/Ghoulardi/Ratpac-Dune (Paul Thomas Anderson, JoAnne Sellar & Daniel Lupi)
US 2014
149 mins


W: Paul Thomas Anderson [based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon]
DP: Robert Elswit
Ed: Leslie Jones
Mus: Jonny Greenwood
Cos: Mark Bridges

Joaquin Phoenix (Larry 'Doc' Sportello), Josh Brolin (Det. Christian 'Bigfoot' Bjornsen), Owen Wilson (Coy Harlingen), Katherine Waterston (Shasta Fay Hepworth), Reese Witherspoon (Penny Kimball), Jena Malone (Hope Harlingen), Benicio del Toro (Saucho Smilax)

Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's novel is a bizarre mix of film noir detective mystery and stoner comedy, a mix which will prove divisive with audiences, especially with its incomprehensible plot and weird collection of characters.
Set in Los Angeles during 1970, a pot-smoking Private Eye, Larry "Doc" Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) takes on three separate missing persons cases, all of which appear to involve his former girlfriend, and becomes embroiled in a world of narcotics-smuggling, people trafficking, police corruption and Manson-esque cults.
The film is purposefully difficult to follow, the story of the book making the transition to the big screen without being simplified, and while the style is beautiful to watch, with dedication to period detail and atmospheric cinematography, it feels almost like two-and-a-half hours of a surreal drug trip.
Similarities could be made with the style of 1991's Naked Lunch coupled with the humour of 1998's The Big Lebowski, but if you're not a fan of either of those two films, you probably won't like this either.

Joaquin Phoenix in Inherent Vice
Joaquin Phoenix in Inherent Vice