Sunday, January 11, 2015

Inherent Vice

Movie Name: Inherent Vice
Year of Release: 2014
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Katherine Waterston, Owen Wilson, Joanna Newsom, Benicio Del Toro, Reese Witherspoon, Maya Rudolph, Michael Kenneth Williams, Jena Malone, Martin Short, Hong Chau, Eric Roberts, Serena Scott Thomas, Jordan Christian Hearn, Sasha Pieterse, Keith Jardine, Martin Donovan, Martin Dew, Taylor Bonin
Genre: Comedy, Crime
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 9

Director Paul Thomas Anderson's follow up to his wonderful "The Master", is another stupendous film, this time around an adaptation of the book "Inherent Vice" by Thomas Pynchon. The film follows the story of Doc Sportello, a private detective, working in California in the late 60s and early 70s, who gets involved in a labyrinth of a case, when his former lover, Shasta shows up at his door. Shasta informs him that she's involved with a married real estate magnate, whose wife and her lover, are planning to institutionalize so they can get their money. Around this magnate there are other groups of interested parties and schemes, something that Doc quickly realizes. To add further entanglement to the story, the police is also hot on the trails of the tycoon and of Doc himself.
"Inherent Vice" is a different film within Paul Thomas Anderson's body of work - the ambition and the breadth of the canvas is very much on par with what he has directed before, however the emotional impact and involvement isn't as immediate as his previous features. The film is anchored by a very distinct look and feel - that of the mystery film of the 70s (such as "The Long Goodbye" from Robert Altman), however it weaves a plot line that is filled with characters and subplots, that at first glance may be hard to follow, but that ultimately wraps itself coherently around the group of characters and universe that it has established. It's also a very funny film on top of the noir and suspenseful tone that it depicts. Much of this has to do with the fantastic adapted screenplay, but also with the wonderful cast that the director has assembled: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Katherine Waterston are simply stupendous in their performances. They create characters that though archetypes, are also imbued with nuances that make them simultaneously funny, aggravating and always surprising. The cinematography from Robert Elswit is simply superb, as is the score from Jonny Greenwood. This is a film whose impact will increase steadily upon repeat views, and one that stays with you for quite some time after you've seen it. Fantastic.