A psychologically troubled novelty supplier is nudged towards a romance with an English woman, all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman, and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Philip Seymour Hoffman
During the psychedelic 60s and 70s Larry "Doc" Sportello is surprised by his former girlfriend and her plot for her billionaire boyfriend, his wife, and her boyfriend. A plan for kidnapping gets shaken up by the oddball characters entangled in this groovy kidnapping romp based upon the novel by Thomas Pynchon.Written by
Dr. Blatnoyd's office cannot possibly be in a large corner room with large windows on both sides based on the exterior shot of the Golden Fang building. See more »
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After the credits roll, the end caption is the opening inscription from Pynchon's novel, Inherent Vice: "Under the Paving-Stones, the Beach!" - Graffito, Paris, May 1968 See more »
"Inherent Vice" is the first outright comedy that Paul Thomas Anderson has made and it's only the second film he's made based on someone else's work, (in this case Thomas Pynchon, whose dialogue he has faithfully reproduced). Consequently the film has been somewhat side-lined and underrated so while it may not be "Magnolia", "There Will Be Blood" or "The Master" it is still head and shoulders above anything else out there at the moment. The plot may be virtually impenetrable, (but then who gives a toss about plot these days), yet as a snapshot of a drug-fueled LA in 1970 this is close to priceless. If Anderson was Altman in a previous life then this is his "The Long Goodbye" by way of Howard Hawks' "The Big Sleep".
When I said the plot was impenetrable I think I should have said it was more or less irrelevant since it is easily summed up in the opening and then conveniently disappears down a rabbit-hole. 'Doc', (a terrific Joaquin Phoenix), is a spaced-out PI 'hired' by former girl-friend Shasta, (newcomer Katherine Waterston), to track down missing billionaire Michael Wolfmann, (Eric Roberts), whom she believes has been kidnapped by his own wife. He isn't very far into the investigation when he wakes up beside a corpse and finds himself surrounded by the fuzz, chief among whom is one Bigfoot Bjornsen, (a never better Josh Brolin). After that you really need to pay very close attention or just go with the flow as more and more characters slip in and out of the frame and an organization called 'The Golden Fang' begins to loom large. Oh, and I did mention this was a comedy and a very funny one, too. It's the kind of surreal, psychedelic comedy movies don't do these days and in that respect it's another throwback to independent Ameriican movie-making in the seventies.
As well as Phoenix and Brolin, both at the top of their game, there is Reese Witherspoon as a promiscuous Assistant DA, an amazing Martin Short as a very peculiar dentist, (and on screen for much too short a time), Owen Wilson as some kind of whistle-blower, (at least I guessed that was what he was), not to mention cameos from the likes of Jeannie Berlin and Jefferson Mays. It's a fun film though it might confound Anderson devotees and anyone who thought him incapable of doing anything other than "The Master" or "Magnolia" and, of course, it looks the part. As well as being a great writer, Anderson has always been a great visual stylist and here DoP Robert Elswit imbues the film with a Vilmos Zsigmond hue. Yes, this is a film that isn't just set in 1970 but which could have been made then, too. It may not be Anderson's best work but it is absolutely essential nevertheless.
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