Inherent Vice ★★★★

My roommate wanted to watch too, so here went a third round, and I think (just maybe, maybe) I got it.

What separates Inherent Vice from most of the pack is the experience it induces on the audience. PTA drifts his audience in and out throughout the film, giving us glimpses of plot development, only to send us a completely new direction as if the smoke on screen is coming through and giving his audience a high.

Thankfully we have a narrator to guide us through the streets of LA with Doc (Joaquin Phoenix) and aren't left just to follow this crazed hippy private investigator. I know there's a sect of the film community that despises narration, as it's "lazy" screenwriting, but I think there's some exceptions, and this has to be one of them.

The narrator, voiced by Joanna Newsom provides lucid backgrounds and setups, perfectly setting up Robert Elswit's 35mm camera that provides a great grainy texture to the film reminiscent of the 70s and puts everything in a haze of memory.

Beyond its episodic, cryptic nature, we see a classic battle of control versus the controlled between the police and the hippy class -- Lt. "Bigfoot" (Josh Brolin) versus Doc. Their relationship is quite mysterious, and I can't think of a better duo to run the show than Brolin and Phoenix. I remember Robert Downey Jr. was rumored for the part of Doc, but Phoenix (as he so often does) makes the part his own, as does Brolin.

We ever so slowly see the development of Bigfoot as a closet hippy, denying it to himself, but eventually showing his oppressed nature to Doc.

Definitely the most entertaining film of the year, and certainly one of the most confusing, but the ride is unlike any other film I've seen before, and that's a great testament to PTA's talent.

Sean Cordy liked these reviews