Director: P.T. Anderson
Writer: P.T. Anderson
Cast: Josh Brolin, Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Martin Short, Owen Wilson, Katherine Waterston
Studio: Warner Brothers

“Inherent Vice” is a film about finding a mystery in between a pot haze and general longing for another. Anderson chose to use Joanna Newsom as the imaginary narrator to get across the beauty of Pynchon’s prose while helping to setup our hero’s mindset. Joaquin Phoenix is operating on another level as Doc and I hope that he can fill in the void that Hoffman has left in Anderson’s stable of actors. Frequently, we see subtle clues that Phoenix is playing the role against an unstable mind. When the film hits home video, I look forward to slower viewers getting a chance to pause the film and catch a few clues that slipped past them.

So many viewers have wrestled with what the film meant. I scratch my head and wonder how they pissed the clues involving ethnicity, the desire for a home and the threat of gentrification. But, I guess that makes me smarter than all of you, so there. Whether it’s the Nixon speech on TV or the constant pressure from authority figures, Doc has lost control of his life. The hippies had a good fight in the 60s, but that time is over and dead. Doc’s attorney might be against him, his friends might be against him and everyone floats in and out of the woodwork with no rhyme or reason.

There’s something telling to the fact that it has taken 45 years to get a Pynchon novel adapted to film. The man is one of America’s greatest authors, but he writes for maybe 1% of the population. Pynchon often nails down cool visuals on the page, but he demands so much. Not every literary work is meant for the silver screen and this film is a noble effort. Still, something was missing and I believe that hurt its overall chances at greater success. Regardless of that, its status as a future cult cinema favorite is secured.


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