Inherent Vice – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

March 5, 2015 by Roz Tarszisz
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Based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice has the lot – sex, drugs and a great rock soundtrack – tied up in a classic detective noir.

Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnola, Punch-Drunk Love) it’s 1970 in California where chicks wear miniskirts, fancy cars have fins and it follows all the conventions of the genre.

There’s a dame in distress, a missing businessman, a runaway girl, dead bodies, shady deals and corrupt cops as well as a voice-over to keep the rather convoluted plot moving along.

Private Eye Larry “Doc” Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix), a bit of a softie, spends most of his time smoking dope. (You would get a contact high merely by sitting next to him.) He is still in love with his ex – the splendidly monikered Shasta Fay Hepworth (Katherine Waterston).

Her current boyfriend, real estate millionaire Mickey Z. Wolfmann (Eric Roberts) has disappeared and Shasta wants Doc to find him. Doc’s search takes him to some strange and seedy places, including a medical facility that is not quite what it appears.

Detective Christian “Big Foot” Bjornsen (James Brolin with square jaw and matching flat top) hauls Doc in for questioning over a murder that may, or may not, be related to Wolfmann’s disappearance.  Not exactly friends, they appear to have a history.

Doc’s current squeeze, Deputy D.A. Penny Kimball   (Reece Witherspoon) gives him a lead. They are an unlikely couple: she’s prim and proper, he’s a stoner but there’s no time to explore their relationship as there’s a case to solve.

There’s also a missing husband to locate, Coy Harlingen (Owen Wilson, perfectly cast as his usual laconic delivery fits right in).  There may well have been a few plot holes but as the story surged along it didn’t seem to matter.  Well known actors, too numerous to mention, appear in small roles.

Attitudes, clothes and hairdos are in tune with the era, particularly Doc’s abundant sideburns. I enjoyed this decadent, if overly long, romp.

Chill out and everything will be copacetic.

4/5    In cinemas March 12 149 mins  Rated MA15+

Starring Joaquin Phoenix, James Brolin, Reece Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Benicio Del Toro

Directed and written by Paul Thomas Anderson

From the novel Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon

Music by Jonny Greenwood

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