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Review - Inherent Vice

By midlandsmovies, Jan 12 2015 12:13PM

Inherent Vice (2015) Dir. P T Anderson

Groovy baby! From a Thomas Pynchon novel that was once described as a “generally lighthearted affair” (New Yorker) comes a film that seems anything but. Paul Thomas Anderson returns to an altogether different 70s from the one he pointed his camera towards in Boogie Nights but that film’s glam is replaced with a stoner aesthetic from the earlier part of the decade. And we view the story beats through a post-hippy drug haze and what a complicated one it is.

In short, the convoluted plot involves the various goings-ons affecting “Doc” Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) a licensed P.I. who gets involved in missing people, attracts the attention of LAPD officer Bigfoot Bjornsen (Josh Brolin) and tries to unravel dodgy real estate and narcotic deals. What else happens? Well, it’s an incredible indecipherable journey as the film is viewed from the stoned perspective of the protagonist whose copious drug intake is reflected in the fractured narrative.

Characters, and there are a lot of them, come and go with seemingly no motivation or consequence and although there are some rather strange moments of comedy (heck, even slapstick), the film is a heady mess of the serious machinations of the west-coast society investigated in Chinatown and the hilarity that ensues in the Coens’ Big Lebowski.

Joaquin Phoenix is on great form and his performance is half intoxication and half paranoia but the film is actually a set of rather odd scenes instead of an overall narrative with the tone varying from Easy Rider to Austin Powers. You could fast forward to any scene and not know what was going on but funnily enough, the same thing occurs even if you watch this film right from the start.

A smorgasbord of ideas, from crooked dentists to swastika face tattoos, the film is solidly made but none of sequences really form any sense of coherence but I almost suspect that was the intention. Its peculiar antics and haphazard beats were not really my bag, baby and although some will find some fascination with its contraband concept (and admittedly impressive soundtrack) I will stick with a big old dose of “The Dude” for my high. Groovy indeed.

Midlands Movies Mike 6/10

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