Thursday, February 19, 2015

Inherent Vice (2014)

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Writers:  Paul Thomas Anderson, Thomas Pynchon (Novel)
Cast:       Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Katherine Waterston

In 1970, drug-fueled Los Angeles private detective Larry 'Doc' Sportello investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend. 

The trailer for Inherent Vice, which Paul Thomas Anderson himself cut, gave the impression that it will be a very similar to Coens' 'Big Lebowski' in its tone. The last two films of the director was quite different when compared with his works pre-There Will Be Blood and the trailer made it look like that it will be more like his earlier works. Nice work Anderson, because you would've fooled everyone who went by trailer. Luckily for me, I was aware of trailer being misleading and didn't negatively affect my viewing of the film. That said there is some similarity with 'Big Lebowski' in the sense is that both of them is about a slacker kind of character who is caught up in an investigation and for both the films the plot is not that important. The latter could be one reason for people not to like 'Big Lebowski' when they watch it first time round because many do have a habit of getting hung up on plot even when the film is not really about that. Anderson takes it one step further by making it almost impossible to make any sense of it. I really don't have any clue about major portions of the film as he introduces newer and newer characters with vague connections to the central investigation and by the end of it you are just dazed and confused. I guess Anderson manages to convey how a stoner is feeling about things but I need some of my stoner friends to confirm the same for me. 

Another film that is all about giving the stoner vibe for the audience is Terry Gilliam's 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas'. Inherent Vice takes a very different approach to it but Benicio Del Toro is common in both films playing the role of lawyer friend to the protagonist. The other main character in  the film is Doc's nemesis cop 'Big Foot' (Josh Brolin) who has a propensity to suck some inappropriate looking things (chocobars, black banana etc, you get the idea) throughout the film. Both Phoenix and Brolin are super great in the film playing very different characters to their normal fare. The way Joaquin Phoenix goes about in public, a common criticism that he gets when it comes to his films like 'The Master' and 'The Immigrant' is that he is just playing his usual self. This film will shut up those people since you don't see Phoenix at all in the role. Robert Downey Jr. was initially associated with the project but I am glad it finally went to Phoenix since the same criticism would have come with the former. Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood is again involved with the soundtrack which starts on the best footing with Can's 'Vitamin C' used during the opening credits. 

Overall it is a great watch and don't ask me anything about the plot. Like the last two Anderson films, this one also require multiple viewing but I am not sure whether my liking for it will depreciate, appreciate or stay the same with it. Forgot to mention that it is an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's, what was regarded as an un-filmable, novel with the same name. The title Inherent Vice, as explained somewhere in the film, is a terminology used in marine insurance to refer to substances that deteriorate because of the fundamental instability of the components as opposed to external forces.

Rating: 4.5/5