The ’60s are dead, to begin with. Yet through all the stoner fog of PI Doc Sportello’s (Phoenix) meandering investigations, the elegiac beauty of Pynchon’s source novel is only occasionally glimpsed.
Three cases are possibly linked by a grand conspiracy, but Doc can’t tell if it’s all real or just a series of paranoiac coincidences. Therein lies the comedy, the brilliance, and the frustration. The increasing pointlessness is at least saved by a wonderful cast, incredible production and many great scenes – with Wilson and Brolin particularly – but at best it’s a flawed masterpiece and at worst an intellectual exercise gone mad.
Inherent Vice sparkles and slogs in equal measure. Compulsively watchable and suitably frustrating, this stoner noir is one of Anderson’s cleverest films, no doubt – but by some distance his least wise.
CAST: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Katherine Waterston, Benicio Del Toro
DIRECTOR: Paul Thomas Anderson
WRITER: Paul Thomas Anderson
SYNOPSIS: Pot-smoking PI Doc Sportello investigates a missing ex-girlfriend in 1970 California.