Ladies, gentlemen, and other such creatures, today we look at Inherent Vice!
This little gem of creativity and absolute mind fuckery is brought to us by Paul Thomas Anderson. For those of you unfamiliar with this cat, he’s the guy who brought us There Will Be Blood (2007) and The Master (2012).
While I’m not an absolute fan of all of his films, credit must be given where credit is due. When you watch a Paul Thomas Anderson film, you know you’re watching just that. He has his own style, and his own way of moving along narrative that greatly stands out from other film makers. He wrote the screenplay for this film based off the novel by the same name by Thomas Pynchon, and it’s very noticeable. The pace of the film fits the narrative like an old shoe, as P.T. Anderson takes us tumbling through the wacky, pleasantly quirky, pot-induced story he has to tell us.
We do our best to follow the story of Larry “Doc” Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) as he tries to track down his missing ex-girlfriend, Shasta Fey Hepworth (Katherine Waterston). She’s recently got herself involved with Michael Z. Woflmann (Eric Roberts), local real-estate giant. But wait, there’s more! Upon a surprising visit, Shasta asks Doc to help foil a plot to institute Wolfmann in a mental hospital, a plot devised by his ambitious and greedy wife. Bit wait, there’s more! Amid this tangled little chaos, we also have Coy Harlingen (Owen Wilson), a saxophone player for a fictional band, presumably dead, government informer, and ex-heroin junkie. He has a few leads about what happened to Wolfmann, and consequently Shasta, and he agrees to help Doc out if Doc keeps an eye on his wife an daughter.
If you’re thinking “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?”, don’t bother rereading that paragraph a second time in the hopes of unearthing sense. The plot is more twisted and intertwined than grandma’s knitting. That was my best attempt at a simple synopsis. We also have cops, informers, killers, nazis, hookers, lawyers, all with their little parts in this plot.
Doc’s a daily connoisseur of marijuana, this being set in the 70’s and all, a proper hippy. While he’s stoned more often than not, you as the audience member feel as though you are, too. Confusion and humour reign supreme as you try to make sense of each new piece of information. And when you can’t, it’s OK, you resign yourself to one of pot’s handy philosophies – Shit be cray, but surely it will make sense in the end.
This movie’s a riot to watch. Not only is it ridiculously fresh, but it’s funny as hell, too. It reminds me quite a bit of the Big Lebowski(1998). Joaquin Phoenix’s performance is very akin to that of Jeff Bridge’s. He’s a kind-hearted hippy trying to make sense of a mystery through his stupor of alcohol, drugs, and poor judgement. Also, Josh Brolin is absolutely HYSTERICAL as the “bad cop” Christian F. “Bigfoot” Bjornsen. He’s the cop with the haircut you can set your watch to, and the “twinkle in his eye that says civil rights violations.” He’s the exact opposite of Doc in just about every way imaginable, and it’s really fun watching the two have a go at each other. Also, what with the sexual innuendos of phallic objects in his mouth and pent up rage, Josh Brolin should tickle your laugh muscles more than a few times.
Well, there’s nothing for it. Through muddled kiss-ass, we’ve arrived at our conclusion. This movie ROCKS! It’s hella’ funny, it’s fresh as freshly rolled grass, and it keeps you captivated with the bizarre, hilarious, mildly questionable, and positively entertaining. Normally, I can point out exactly what elements about the movie make it good, but in this case, I’m at a complete loss. It’s just a colourful and tangled ball of fun and awesome. GO SEE!