Writing that is this unsound just can’t be this ostentatious at the same time. The sheer number of times regular turns of phrase are made needlessly novel here is agonizing.
Give the same basic material to someone with like half the self-esteem and you’d have something here. Maybe dial the aimless cynicism way down to a 98.
On the whole, the the rest of the film’s done pretty well. The content is mapped out very well. It’s just extraordinarily annoying most of the time.
Here's how James Franco's brain works:
He releases an adaptation of William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying in 2013—a muddled embodiment of his delusions of grandeur; an altogether unfocused and confused mess that was adapted from Faulkner's most accessible work. It was, quietly and unsurprisingly, poorly received by most everyone.
Then, confounding any sense of human reason, Franco decides to adapt The Sound and the Fury —Faulkner's second-most difficult novel (behind Absalom, Absalom!, also his best), which is really saying…
Inherent Vice bears a heavy heart underneath its light-hearted guise. It bleeds through the film like that California sun which fleetingly leaks through nebulous fog. Beneath every laugh is a sobering, saddening realization. Beneath every celebration of hippiedom lies the implicit understanding that the lifestyle is on its last legs.
This air of sorrow mourns the end of a loving, communal culture that has been overtaken by a rapacious, individualistic revolution. Hope for peace has been replaced by fear of…