INHERENT VICE

inherent viceNo Thomas Pynchon movie has ever been made into a movie until now. After seeing INHERENT VICE I can understand why. I have not read the book, so I cannot tell you if this is a faithful adaptation. But if the book is obtuse and layered and thick with style, then yeah, Paul Thomas Anderson captured it. It may work as a book, but it does not even come close to working as a film. Ok, maybe I’m being a bit harsh. Anderson is an auteur and has made some mind blowing films. Think BOOGIE NIGHTS, THE MASTER, THERE WILL BE BLOOD and even MAGNOLIA. Those were heavy on style but also full of substance and didn’t get bogged down in trying to be too “much”. INHERENT VICE tells the story of Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) a stoner private eye who is hired by his ex-girlfriend to find her current beau. But he’s also hired by other people to find other people and they all circle around the same case. Wow! What a happy coincidence! So at its core, this is a detective story. Kind of a 1940’s or ’50’s Phillip Marlowe tale, but updated for 1970. There is a lot of talk about taking drugs and a lot of actual taking drugs. I feel like I had taken drugs after watching even an hour of this. Did Anderson take drugs while writing this? It is so dense and obsessed with it’s own cleverness, well it’s just too much. Too much baffling dialogue, too much pointless exposition, too much narration telling us what we are seeing, too much of Phoenix in a drug induced haze staring aimlessly at the the camera. Reese Witherspoon is Phoenix’s girlfriend who also works in the D.A.’s office. Why is she even in the movie? Her role is pointless and unnecessary as far as I can tell. It’s just so difficult to fathom what the heck is going on, I almost gave up several times, but figured I had to stick it out for the whole 2:30. Yes, 2:30 of head scratching, what the fuck is going on here moments. There is one angry sex scene which kind of breaks the monotony, but then it’s right back to more what am I watching here? The best part of this is Josh Brolin who plays a cop with anger issues who is at the same time Doc’s friend and adversary. He plays it with the right camp and the right flattop haircut. Anderson needed to trim the script as much as Brolin trimmed his hair. Maybe then we could all make sense of this. But I doubt it. — Alan Yudman

 

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