Inherent Vice ★★★½

There is no polite way to put it, but the story of Inherent Vice feels like an elaborate mess as it throws out copious names and locales that I’m not sure even mean much, at least not on first viewing. This movie experience feels equivalent to falling down the rabbit-hole while smoking a joint.

All I know is what makes the film work for me is Joaquin Phoenix’s performance and the character (Doc) he plays. Watching Doc lumber, fumble, and get high several times has an immeasurable sort of quality to it. Watching him react to situations and his run-ins with other curious individuals makes for an enjoyable ride despite it all feeling completely out of loop with the plot…what was that again?

Paul Thomas Anderson possesses a signature that make his films gorgeous to look at. In recent times, he seems to have given extra care for stories distinctly marked in a period like There will be Blood (early 1900s), The Master (mid 1940s), and now Inherent Vice (1970s). He also regularly amasses a solid ensemble cast and gets the best out of them. Other than Joaquin Phoenix’s transformation, Josh Brolin leaves a strong mark in an unforgettably hilarious turn.

Overall, I can’t recall a non-accessible film I’ve had this much fun with. Those who dismiss the entire film based on its convoluted plot alone may have a fair point. But if you can somehow evade that, you may really enjoy being in the company of Doc…like, a lot.

Adu liked these reviews