INHERENT VICE | REVIEW

Paul Thomas Anderson brings the stoner-noir novel, INHERENT VICE, from novelist Thomas Pynchon to life. This is the first adaptation of a Pynchon novel to film, a daunting project as his novels are overly complex. Possibly one of the best movie posters in years this film also sports an incredible ensemble cast. INHERENT VICE will be releasing this Thursday 12th March in Australia from the folks at Roadshow Films Australia, it is rated MA15+ and runs for 148mins. 

 

INHERENT VICE MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
INHERENT VICE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER IMAGE

 

 

BY JASON KING

INHERENT VICE is a glorious mess, a stoner-noir crime story that is so busting at the seems with characters and plotlines that it feels as if the movie itself is on acid. The movie is literally lost in itself trying to meander through a plot orgy of endless sub plots and debauchery. I enjoyed many scenes, the cinematography, the acting, the cast, the soundtrack but I cannot explain it to you, I need to see it many more times and I need to resume my youthful exuberance for a bucket bong or three pre screening.

Basic plotline is that in 1970, drug-fueled Los Angeles detective Larry “Doc” Sportello investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend. Don’t think too much beyond that and all will be well, just enjoy the crazy scenes and amazing cast. It feels like Tarantino and Wes Anderson dropped a bowl of mescaline and then started filming but whereas both the mentioned directors riddle their films with subplots they are interesting and make sense, on the whole this felt like a convoluted bag of sub-standard hashish.

 

INHERENT VICE MOVIE IMAGE
INHERENT VICE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | DOC (JOAQUIN PHOENIX), SORTILEGE (JOANNA NEWSOM) AND SHASTA (KATHERING WATERSTON) SMOKING WEED

 

What does work is the art direction, production-design, acting, sound track and cinematography. You are literally taken back to early 70’s L.A. hippydom (and resistance) and you can literally smell the weed, free love and salt in most scenes. Just the simple act of Doc barely ever wearing shoes is a beautiful part of the film in its simplicity to dirty hippies.

The production design by David Crank (THE DOUBLE, THE MASTER) and art direction by Ruth De Jong (THERE WILL BE BLOOD, THE TREE OF LIFE, THE MASTER) are next level and that cinematography from Robert Elswit (has pretty much shot all of Paul Thomas Anderson films) is perfect.

Add to the visual we have a stellar soundtrack of music I barely know from Johnny Greenwood with a light peppering of Neil Young and some other tunes that will definitely get a play on the JK sound system.

 

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INHERENT VICE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | LARRY “DOC” SPORTELLO (JOAQUIN PHOENIX)

 

Phoenix was born to play this role, he literally is the dirty drug taking hippy with a limited but functioning brain capacity and the ability to still have lots of sex. However for me the movie is nearly stolen from under him by two other actors; firstly the absolutely hystercially completely opposite hippy-hating Lt. Det. Christian F. “Bigfoot” Bjornsen played with steely jock right-wing craziness by the brilliant Josh Brolin – I laughed more at him than anyone else in the movie. I would have laughed a lot more at the drug addled Dr. Rudy Blatnoyd, D.D.S. portrayed brilliantly by a much missed Martin Short but he had only a few scenes.

Besides these two I found most of the other impressive cast more as fillers of an ensemble. Benicio was underutilised and Witherspoon was basically unnecessary, as was Owen Wilson – as odd as Wilson’s character was I did enjoy his story. The other two lead ladies I do not know and they really did nothing for me besides being hot looking hippy ladies.

 

INHERENT VICE HIPPY LAST SUPPER IMAGE
INHERENT VICE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | HIPPY LAST SUPPER

 

While well made and with an impressive cast I do believe this movie was let down by the director and the lack of plot steerage. The movie felt too long and due to the complex nature and messiness of said plot I actually think this story and adaptation from Pynchon book would have been better as a mini series on television – it could have assisted in developing the story more, allowing characters to breath and truly giving it time to be made into something great. I also cannot compare to the book, I have been told it is amazing but the sub plots and insanity is more to do with Pynchon than the movie.

This will not be for everyone and for me – I was in joint, line and orchy bottle for about two thirds, it was when I realised nothing was going to bring this film to a comforting understandable finale that I lost interest.

 

3 Pops

 

 

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