IMDb – 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes – 70%
Inherent Vice hurts my brain, even now after I have finished watching it. Paul Thomas Anderson has done many great things — Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood to name only a couple — and this might be another, but I simply was and am not the type of person who can fully comprehend the film to the extent it deserves. So I shall be brief, and leave bigger thoughts on this film to more capable minds.
Did this film hurt my brain?
Yes, but not in a bad way! The plot twists and turns endlessly, making two and a half hours feel more like a fortnight. This isn’t necessarily a terrible thing — it’s more like a strange trip than an unyielding nightmare. PTA has always done his thing with no regard for commercialness, and here he takes you on a strange and non-linear joyride that will either tire you out or leave you having the time of your life.
Is Joaquin Phoenix awesome as “Doc” Sportello?
Yes, and you probably didn’t need me to tell you that.
He earned a nomination for a Golden Globe but not an Oscar, and that’s probably how it should be. He is loose and airy and hilarious, just as confused with his surroundings as you the viewer. His chemistry with Josh Brolin’s “Bigfoot” is fantastic, and Phoenix soaks up every instance of Doc getting beaten and mistreated. He’s lovable and loving and simply caught up in circumstances over his head. Phoenix has of course been all over the map himself in recent years. Why stop?
How ’bout that Oscar-nominated script, yo?
How ’bout that English, yo?
But for real, PTA’s screenplay is a delight, nailing the sharp punchlines but also allowing Phoenix and the supporting players to make the most of awkward silences and drugged haziness. PTA has a good chance at the Oscar (though The Imitation Game and others have strong arguments), but regardless he succeeded in producing a script that maintains its strength throughout a lengthy and exhausting film.
Told you I’d be short!
P.S. Unless your mom is SUPER GROOVY, don’t see this with her.