Review: 'Inherent Vice'


[vc_row][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the finest auteurs of our generation. He has a very distinct style that captivates fans and perplexes casual moviegoers, and his work seems to be drifting further and further down the road of inaccessibility. For this particular outing, he summons once more his Master-ful cohort, Joaquin Phoenix, to inhabit the role of Larry "Doc" Sportello in Inherent Vice, his adaptation of a sprawling Thomas Pynchon novel. Unfortunately, it's a bit too sprawling for even a lengthy 148 minutes of screen time. A lazy man (or woman) might describe Inherent Vice as "Chinatown meets The Big Lebowski," but that's far too oversimplified. Doc Sportello may invoke Jeff Lebowski in attire and demeanor – while the film's atmosphere strongly apes Jake Gittes, with a little The Long Goodbye thrown in for good measure – but he's actually a seasoned investigator with a bevy of important contacts (including an unexpected Reese Witherspoon cameo as the deputy district attorney). He just also likes to get stoned a lot. And therein lies the film's core. Doc previously operated in a decade where being high and spreading love was the status quo, but times are changing. In the wake of the Manson family murders, people of Doc's ilk are now considered degenerate deadbeats. Throughout Inherent Vice, he's referred to derisively as 'hippie' and disregarded as human trash. Occasionally, he's even looked upon as threatening. Meanwhile, his better half is Lt. Det. Bigfoot Bjornsen (Josh Brolin), a cop who moonlights as an actor and despises the counterculture. He's conniving and manipulative, consistently exploiting Doc's laid-back tendencies for his own gain. The '70s have begun, and the flaws in '60s culture are being exposed and abused by enemies who show a shocking willingness to play dirty. In the end, even the hippies will be pushed to their

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limits as human beings and forced to conform. Unfortunately, that general theme is buried underneath a labyrinthine plot that distracts from everything else. By the time you realize the story's nuts and bolts are largely irrelevant, it may be too late. Couple that with a relatively undefined tone – the comedic elements are subtle to a fault – plus an irredeemable side plot about Owen Wilson's subversive-turned-informant and it's tough to grasp exactly what Inherent Vice is aiming for at first glance. Call me old-fashioned but I don't think you should have to see a movie twice to appreciate its value. Which is a shame, because the acting really is spectacular. Phoenix proves captivating in every scene, even if you don't know what the hell he's doing. Brolin is a much more bombastic character, but he's the most delightful and a necessary burst of energy. Katherine Waterston only has a few scenes as Doc's ex-girlfriend and the plot's catalyst, but a monologue she delivers at the midway point straddles the line between sympathetic and erotic with almost preternatural ease. And a largely irrelevant but wonderfully ridiculous scene with Martin Short as a drug-addled dentist is almost worth

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the price of admission alone. Unfortunately, I keep coming back to that story. Anderson has never cared very much about being accessible, but Boogie Nights had a very straightforward narrative (and remains his best film). And while Magnolia and Punch-Drunk Love were a bit overstuffed (the former) and odd (the latter), everything fit comfortably in its own unique way. Then there's The Master. They're very dissimilar in terms of content and tone, but they do share being difficult to consume. I ending up giving The Master a second chance and found it unpacked quite neatly that time around, but Inherent Vice feels different. Anderson did his damnedest with some difficult source material, but there's just too much for one man to handle. We've found his breaking point. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/3"] [vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"][mk_fancy_title tag_name="h2" style="true" color="#393836" size="14" font_weight="inhert" margin_top="0" margin_bottom="18" font_family="none" align="left"]Details:[/mk_fancy_title] [mk_custom_list style="48" icon_color="#00c8d7" margin_bottom="30" align="none"]

  • Written and directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Katherine Waterston, Owen Wilson
  • Runtime: 148 minutes
  • Release date: January 9, 2015

[/mk_custom_list] [mk_fancy_title tag_name="h2" style="true" color="#393836" size="14" font_weight="inhert" margin_top="0" margin_bottom="18" font_family="none" align="left"]More reviews from this author:[/mk_fancy_title] [mk_custom_list style="48" icon_color="#00c8d7" margin_bottom="30" align="none"]