Inherent Vice [Movie Review]

todayFebruary 13, 2015 30

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Bridgette East, Web Content Contributor

Paul Thomas Anderson has done it again.

That is, he made another movie that will show you the true capacity of film.

Inherent Vicedownload, directed by Anderson and based on a novel by notoriously reclusive author Thomas Pynchon, is a psychedelic twist on the classic film Noir, Set in California circa 1970, the movie stars Joaquin Phoenix, as a stoner private eye who is recruited by his ex, Shasta (Katherine Waterston) to investigate her current lover’s wife’s attempt to get him institutionalized. The film shows him being thrown into a bigger conspiracy, Polanski’s Chinatown. The film spirals out to chaos as the case grows deeper than expected.

Inherent Vice has a more comedic tone than Anderson’s previous films, but still has every mark of his previous films. He retains his awe-inspiring stylistic choices; for those new to Anderson’s films, his movies are filled with beautiful shots that will make you want to pause the film and just sit there like you’re in a museum. With bright colors and unique angles, cinematography is definitely one of Anderson’s biggest strengths.

The film has a complex story, which is more representative of Pynchon than it is of Anderson, which is admittedly hard to keep up with. I would try to abstain from going to the bathroom during this movie. Nonetheless, the plot makes sense; it’s just kind of a bumpy ride. It is said to be very faithful to the source material, with Anderson adapting the novel by typing out the entire novel and starting from there. An admirable process, and definitely worth the hard work.

With an all-star cast typical of Anderson movies, there are a lot of rich, complex characters that play their own unique role in the story. Stars ranging from Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon and Maya Rudolph are all parts of a dynamic and eccentric cast.


It is worth noting that the film has been nominated for Academy Awards in Costume Design and Writing – Adapted Screenplay. It is the sixth Academy Award nomination for Paul Thomas Anderson.

If you enjoy the film, some recommendations I have for viewers range from what viewers enjoyed about the film.

  • If you enjoyed the stylistic aspects of the film, I suggest Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive. A gorgeous film with an incredible soundtrack and a neo-noir aspect.
  • If you want to explore Anderson’s filmography, his best films are Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and The Master.
  • Or if you preferred the mystery aspect of the film, I recommend Polanski’s Chinatown (mentioned earlier in this review), John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon, and the Coen Brothers’ Fargo. There are so many movies in both the film noir and neo-noir genres that are definitely worth watching.

Overall: I have this to say that if you are a casual film watcher, the film may not be your cup of tea, but if you’re a film buff or a fan of PTA, this film is definitely worth the time and money. Entering the theater without having read a single word by Pynchon, I thoroughly enjoyed my viewing experience. I might be a little biased toward Anderson, as I am a fan of his previous films, but I promise you that within the first five minutes of this movie, you too will be sold.

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