I am a sucker for anything set in the seventies especially if attention to detail is a priority. I couldn’t have been anymore in love with the sets, wardrobe, hair and make-up of ‘Inherent Vice’ if it had actually been shot in 1970. They totally nailed the vibe. Maybe it was the breezy, carefree coastal California setting. Maybe it was the groovy hippie mentality. Maybe it was the moody pot haze that settled over every shot. I am also a huge fan of very loose, almost ad-libbed dialogue.
Joaquin Phoenix was a big plus as well. I adore the man. He’s weird. He’s mostly high. He’s a convincing actor. He’s a beautiful man. OK, so that porn ‘stache in ‘Her’ I could have lived without, but usually he’s pretty easy on the eyes.
So, Joaquin plays a washed up Private Eye who goes by the name, ‘Doc’. He is mysteriously approached by his ex-girlfriend who seems to have gotten herself into a bit of a pickle. I am not going to lie. The story was a bit hard to follow. It involved cartels, rogue dentists, ‘happy endings’, Owen Wilson, looney bins and this minor female character who seems to randomly show up in memory montages and seems to be narrating the whole story.
Half the time Doc is incoherent but honestly, it really doesn’t matter. Hey! Maybe they should have called it ‘Incoherent Vice’! Anyway, I had a lot of fun watching the characters interact with one another and being thoroughly confused. About halfway through the film it occurred to me that maybe the idea is that this film might be better enjoyed in a heightened state of um, consciousness?
Have you ever seen ‘China Town’? That weird pseudo noir vibe? There was definitely some of that. There were some funny moments. I actually laughed out loud at a scene that involved a very butch antagonist cop that had a penchant for frozen chocolate covered bananas. Let’s just say that gagging on phallic frozen confections tickled my funny bone.
I kept waiting for this film to make sense, but as it progressed, the best I could hope for was a vague understanding of what the holy fuck was going on. I know this seems like a negative thing, but it was so damn fun! I think there was a happy ending, but who knows.
Paul Thomas Anderson. Amazing soundtrack. Undeniable 70’s vibe. Lots of pot. Quickly quipped dialogue a’la a 30’s/40’s noir film. Great cast with some surprises. I liked it a lot. I think it deserves a rewatch or two.