Reviewing any Paul Thomas Anderson film is tricky. Not that they are bad (they very rarely are) they simply are difficult to describe. There is so much involved in an Anderson film that being able to write coherently about plot, character etc is not easy. Inherent Vice is no different.
Based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon (the first of his works to be adapted) Inherent Vice is based around the permanently stoned detective Doc played by Joaquin Phoenix. The film starts off simply enough with a missing person case however this case soon takes on multiple layers, an increasing cast of outlandish characters and much like the haze of Doc’s dope filled character fleets from moments of striking clarity to fuzzy logic in a heartbeat.
So many great performances from a stellar cast. Not only Phoenix but Josh Brolin’s straight laced cop known to many as Bigfoot almost steals the show. Reese Witherspoon is great Benicio Del Toro is great (and should be onscreen more). Even Owen Wilson is bearable. These characters are sometimes so fleeting that it is perfectly feasible that you could blink and miss them. I’m still not convinced that all the characters are real, some appear to be so random in the appearances they make that they may be nothing more than a figment of Doc’s drug fuelled imagination.
The film deals with so many issues too not only but politics, the change in the drug scene and the darkness of the move towards heroine, the end of hippy culture, the changing physical landscape of LA and cult religions to name a few.
The rambling nature of this review in some ways tells you all you need to know. This film should be seen. It will possibly frustrate and alienate some viewers. It may take a second or possibly a third pass before all the pieces fall in place but I would fully recommend it. More accessible than some of Paul Thomas Anderson’s work but retaining a lot of his most frustrating and vintage touches Inherent Vice gives me the munchies for more.