Inherent Vice, 2014, USA
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin & Katherine Waterston
As has been the case with all of Paul Thomas Anderson's features films, I loved 'Inherent Vice', but unlike the rest of his films, I'm not sure yet why I loved 'Inherent Vice'. With the likes of 'The Master', 'There Will Be Blood', 'Boogie Nights' and the rest of them, I can instantly spool of a list of a dozen reasons why i loved that film and why I think it was great. With this film though, I know the reasons are there but I can't yet spool them off, when thinking back over the film my mind instantly gets tangled in Doc's bizarre odyssey and all of it's wonderfully unhinged madness, and maybe that's just as good.
'Inherent Vice' plays the way it should, like it is slowly being pieced together in the mind of a drug fuelled bystander. The way in which the narrative unfolds is crude, confusing and filled with loose ends, this is where the genius of it lies. PTA, adapting the novel by Thomas Pynchon, produces another dynamic and cracking screenplay. I'm not familiar at all with Pynchon's novel so I can't comment on that, but Anderson's writing and direction places the viewer in the Doc's shoes, thus making for a much more entertaining, immersive and exhilarating experience. It reminded me a lot of what the Coen brothers did with 'The Big Lebowski'.
If someone were to ask me how to describe in a couple of sentences, I would probably blabber incoherently for a little while before stating "It has the kinetic energy of 'Boogie Nights' and 'Punch Drunk Love' and the sophistication of 'There Will Be Blood' and 'The Master' ", if that makes any sense? PTA finds a perfect midpoint between the two extremes of his styles and the results are wonderful. I loved the tone of the film, it fluctuates between hilarious upbeat comedy to dark gritty crime thriller and mysterious neo-noir, and does it all with class and a huge entertainment factor.
Our lead character spends most of his time either sleuthing around or smoking pot from the privacy of his own home. He has shaggy hair and messy muttenchops and is usually kitted out in his fedora, shades, jacket, faded jeans and sandals. Walking with a relaxed stride that sees the lower half of his body arrive at his destination before the top half, this man is private investigator Larry "Doc" Sportello and he is the heart and soul of 'Inherent Vice'. Doc is an endlessly loveable and entertaining character that is played effortlessly by one of, if not the, finest actor on the planet, Joaquin Phoenix. He is such an excellent performer, the little nuances in his performance are just phenomenal and he does everything with such class and makes even the most well written characters on page ever better in practice. The duo of Phoenix and PTA has proved remarkable results thus far, I really hope it continues.
'Inherent Vice' is a viciously unique experience, brimming with a pulsating and infectious energy. Whether it's as a comedy, a crime-drama, a neo-noir or a mystery-thriller, 'Inherent Vice' is compelling on all levels. Another masterfully crafted film from arguably the bravest and boldest filmmaker on the planet.