Film Review: Inherent Vice

Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film Inherent Vice is his foray into Thomas Pynchon’s novel of the same name and is the best bad acid trip you’ll ever have.

When Larry ‘Doc’ Sportello’s (Joaquin Phoenix) ex girlfriend, Shasta Fay (Katherine Waterstone) turns up on the doorstep of his rickety beach house, he becomes embroiled in the search for her billionaire ex-beau (Eric Roberts) that will treat you in no small amounts to an unholy amalgamation of post-manson cults, PCP, heroin addict sax players, and coked up dentists with the labido of a mountain lion in heat (Martin Short).

In my humble and unqualified opinion Anderson has again demonstrated his unique ability to make cinematic gold out of what can only be called a trainwreck of a film (see; Magnolia). If you have ever read a Thomas Pynchon novel before, you will however understand that this is a necessary part of transferring his work from page to the silver screen. His style of prose can be called nothing short of labyrinthian, sub plots that emerge and disappear, questions raised and half answered, a lack of a discernible antagonists or protagonists in any real strict sense of the terms, Inherent Vice embodies most of these tropes.

What you do take away from the film is a strong impression of the themes that Pynchon and Anderson seek to impart, that of hippydom counterculture in regression, the rise of reagan era capitalism, and liberal amounts of phallic imagery for good measure. The films score should not go unnoticed either, with Radiohead’s own Jonny Greenwood taking the reigns, you’ll be treated to some classic krautrock in the form of Can and Neil Young during the two and a half hour long run time.

If you find the idea of a film with a not-so-linear or comprehensible plot a little uncomfortable, then Inherent Vice is probably not going to be for you. If however, you can relax your mind enough so that every time you crinkle your eyebrows and ask “what just happened?” isn’t a proverbial stone in your shoe,then you may just love Inherent Vice.

[Jarlath Mulhern – @JarlathMulhern]

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