[Film Review] Inherent Vice (2014)

Inherent Vice poster
Title: Inherent Vice
Year: 2014
Country: USA
Language: English, Japanese
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Thomas Pynchon
Paul Thomas Anderson
Music: Jonny Greenwood
Cinematography: Robert Elswit
Joaquin Phoenix
Josh Brolin
Katherine Waterston
Joanna Newsom
Benicio Del Toro
Owen Wilson
Reese Witherspoon
Hong Chau
Jordan Christian Hearn
Serena Scott Thomas
Martin Donovan
Martin Short
Jena Malone
Jeannie Berlin
Sam Jaeger
Eric Roberts
Michael Kenneth Williams
Maya Rudolph
Timothy Simons
Keith Jardine
Yvette Yates
Peter McRobbie
Jillian Bell
Jefferson Mays
Christopher Allen Nelson
Michelle Sinclair
Amy Ferguson
Sasha Pieterse
Andrew Simpson
Rating: 6.3/10
Inherent Vice 2014
Before watching Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest labour-of-love, I  am quite puzzled how come this film hovered under the radar almost entirely in the past Oscar season, since PTA is pretty much in his heyday both in his career path and artistic creativity after THERE WILL BE BLOOD (2007) and THE MASTER (2012) , with only two minor Oscar nominations (Adapted Screenplay and Costume Design), its box office journey is also underperformed, a meagre $8 million after its domestic run.
As I am no expert on American literature, so the name Thomas Pynchon doesn’t ring any bells to me, but after reading the basic synopsis, it is a story with great potentials, it could be an intricate crime procedural, with a dopey PI Larry “Doc” Sportello (Phoenix) in L.A. as our resourceful, street-smart protagonist. However once viewers like me have been transported into a world of the 1970s vernacular of hippies and dopers, which I personally don’t have any connections with, thanks to PTA’s prosaic tactic, a disarray is aggravated by sundry characters’ drawling intonations and the tonally languishing story-building, the film encompasses a convoluted plot, nevertheless, audience (especially for the ones like me where English is not our native tongue and totally oblivious of the novel) can hardly acquire a lucid clue of what is happening as it is mostly divulged through confabs among sundry characters, and quite difficult to collage all the loose ends to a comprehensive picture, so running against  148 minutes, the torpor will eventually catch you sooner or later.
Shot in 35mm film, INHERENT VICE is a visually breathtaking achievement, recaptures the ethos of its epoch, grafts its richly retro hue with a meandering narrative to envision a cinematic recreation opportune to the past era. The performances are also scattered half-heartedly as if all is enveloped in a smoky haze, Phoenix is a devoted thespian no wonder, but strangely no strong personality has been squeezed from Doc’s idiosyncrasies, he is so ordinary and insentient to lead audience on. Among a vast supporting cast with many veterans, Brolin’s police officer Bigfoot steals the limelight completely in his more idiosyncratic bravado beyond his character’s murphy motive which unfortunately one couldn’t care less in a long run. Katherine Waterston, the daughter of Sam Waterston, harnesses her breakthrough role as Shasta, Doc’s ex, who is the main intrigue and pops up haphazardly to light up the screen, muttering wistfully with nothing concrete to elucidate her incentive, but the postures alone, is galvanising enough to earn a pat on the back, not to a lesser extent, in her stunt of denuded rawness
Narrated by Doc’s confidante Sortilège (singer Newsom) in her dolce cadence, and vitalised by a soundtrack of that time, eventually INHERENT VICE never conquer me as PTA’s previous works, a career debacle may be overstretched, hopefully it is just an inherent retreat before embarking on something more organic to his proven artistry!
Oscar 2014 - Inherent Vice

2 thoughts on “[Film Review] Inherent Vice (2014)

  1. Pingback: [Film Review] Phantom Thread (2017) – Cinema Omnivore

  2. Pingback: [Film Review] Under the Silver Lake (2018) – Cinema Omnivore

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