Inherent Vice

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Katherine Waterston, Maya Rudolph, Eric Roberts, Jena Malone, Martin Short, Martin Donovan
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson

What a bizarre, strange movie. I mean that in a good way. Except, it seems like the film doesn’t always make sense, or is incredibly coherent. The ensemble cast, and the weaving of storylines, mixed with sort of a trippy, drug fueled feel, make Inherent Vice a borderline coherent film.

From what I can tell, Doc (Phoenix) is a private eye, who likes his weed and sex. He’s hooking up with this girl Shasta (Waterston), who starts to tell him about this conspiracy theory involving a developer (Roberts), and then she disappears. So, he goes to look for her. But, for a while he’s also looking for a missing musician at the behest of the musicians wife (Malone), while also dealing with an asshole police officer (Brolin), and Doc’s sometime lover (Witherspoon). Describing this plot on Twitter would be impossible.

Phoenix is really good in his role. It almost feels crafted especially for him. The problem is that the material is a little lightweight, and there are incredibly strong best actor performances that just eclipse his performance. Even Brolin in supporting actor faces tough competition and stronger performances. Probably the brightest performance is Katherine Waterston, daughter of Sam Waterston, who might be a breakthrough actress coming out of Inherent Vice.

Like I said, the biggest problem that I have with the film is that it doesn’t always make sense. It jumps around a lot, and you feel like you’re missing something. I always felt like I had missed a scene, or a line of dialogue. I never quite felt comfortable in the plot. I wanted to be, because it seemed like a cool story. It also jumps back and forth between serious to slapstick and back again. It also hovers in between, but you can have a serious scene followed by a slapstick moment. I wouldn’t call it a comedy or a drama, and dramedy really doesn’t apply here either. It’s some kind of a crime movie, but almost genre defying.

Inherent Vice is possibly more perplexing than it needed to be for its own good. It’s hard to play ball with heavy hitters when you’re not bringing your best work to the table. I feel like that’s what happened here, and Paul Thomas Anderson (who has directed much better films) didn’t come to play with his best work. This is his Jackie Brown, or his Darjeeling Limited. Not necessarily a bad film, but when you’re known for hitting home runs, people often look at your solid base hit as being sub par. Anderson suffers here from being one of the best working directors, and setting the bar so high for himself.

It could have been, and it should have been better. It should have made more sense. It just fell short.


Say Something!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s