Review: Inherent Vice (2015)
Joaquin Phoenix’s magnificent mutton chops take centre stage in this offbeat, spiraling stoner comedy from director Paul Thomas Anderson.
Larry ‘Doc’ Sportello (Phoenix) is a waster; a constantly stoned bare-footed private detective with facial hair as sprawling as the film’s narrative, who finds himself wrapped up in a new case following an unannounced visit from his ex old-lady, Shasta (Katherine Waterson). Based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon, the film tracks the doped-up Doc as he traverses the troubled shores of 1970 Los Angeles, bumbling his way through a series of interconnected investigations relating to property magnate Michael Z. Wolfman (Eric Roberts). The confounding, almost rambling narrative is dotted with amusing moments of absurdity, mostly involving Josh Brolin’s charismatic performance as Detective ‘Bigfoot’ and his unlikely buddy relationship with the hippie Doc. Visually, the film is as stylish and polished as Anderson’s most recent feature, The Master, while the foot-tapping soundtrack put together by Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood immerses the viewer even further. With a joint in one hand and a cigar in the other, Doc’s chilled-stoner persona and the wonderful performance by Phoenix are perhaps the main draws of Inherent Vice, in a similar vein to Jeff Bridge’s iconic ‘dude’ in The Big Lebowski. However, for many, especially those unfamiliar with the melancholic world of Paul Thomas Anderson, the film’s plot will be seen as unnecessarily confusing, with a little too much style over substance during the bloated run-time. No doubt, it is a film which would benefit from multiple viewings, but it’s certainly not Anderson’s best work; that may still be to come.
★★★★☆ IMDb: 7.2 Rotten Tomatoes: 72%