Movie Reviews

Published on January 9th, 2015 | by Sasha Glenn


Inherent Vice

“Inherent Vice” Follows Doc (Joaquin Phoenix), a private investigator, as he falls down a dark rabbit hole into a world of crime and systemic corruption.
Phoenix is a transformative actor, delving deep into his role. We’ve seen him do it before in movies like “Walk the Line.” He becomes his character to the point that it is conceivable this just might be the real him.

It is set in bohemian 1970s California. Everything from the way the camera captures the scene, to the outfits that adorn the characters, exudes a hippy-grunge vibe.
The film encompasses multiple genres including crime, comedy, and drama.

Similar to movies like “The Big Lebowski,” it is filled with humorous moments as Doc, a well-meaning and laid back stoner, is constantly found in the middle of the proverbial shit.
When his ex-girlfriend Shasta Fay (Katherine Waterston) reappears one random day, telling him of a plot to kidnap her billionaire boyfriend and then disappears shortly after, Doc becomes consumed by his investigation into her whereabouts. He is led into a conspiracy-like web of drugs, crime, and corruption.

It is not a typical movie with a coherent storyline, rather it is an experience of what Doc goes through as a mind bending mystery unfolds before him.
Strange, subtle details leave a trail of breadcrumbs for the audience to follow along with Doc, as he tries to make some sense out of the connections he stumbles across.
The plot transpires in a blur, floating into the perceptions of the audience like the winding smoke of an opium den. With a few dull moments, it drags on at times, much like the reality of human experience tends to do.

The musical selection only adds to the film’s tantalizing stylistic ambiance – at times it’s a dull and prolonged high, other times it’s a seedy bluesy underground, or absolute instrumental lunacy. Interestingly, much of the music was composed by Radiohead lead guitarist Jonny Greenwood.

Adding to the intricacy and authenticity of the film, is a brief cameo by what is perhaps the most psychedelic band of our time, The Growlers. This moment will only be recognized by fans who are paying close attention, but is an absolutely fitting detail.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson adapted the film from the original novel written by Thomas Pynchon. Like reading a novel, the film is consuming. But because it goes by much quicker than reading a book, it may need to be watched several times for the viewer to grasp exactly what happened.

Audiences will leave theaters with a resonating feeling of pure delirium from the cerebral experience that is “Inherent Vice.”

A surreal masterpiece, I give “Inherent Vice” 5 out of 5 stars.

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