Movie review: “Inherent Vice”

by Yena Lee


(via Google Images)


Inherent Vice

Directed & written by: Paul Thomas Anderson

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Katherine Waterston, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Jena Malone

Story by: Thomas Pynchon


This is a difficult movie to write about  —  probably because it’s a difficult movie to understand. Aside from the complicated, non sequitur plot, it’s aesthetically beautiful; a brazen yet wonderful film.


Joaquin Phoenix plays the main role of Larry “Doc” Sportello, a perpetually stoned PI. Doc somehow manages to get himself entangled with an enigmatic organization called the Golden Fang. Doc’s investigation takes him through an underworld of Neo-Nazi biker gangs, drug cartels and a dental office — which actually serves as a money laundering front for the Golden Fang. And somehow, all of this ties together in the most convoluted way that you probably won’t understand.


The story of “Inherent Vice” is big — it’s so big that viewers can’t possibly expect all the different storylines to come together. But that’s what makes the movie — grandiose, thick plotlines that know no end. The huge cast added to the mix makes the movie almost too hard to digest, but the talent that shines through for each actor makes up for it.


Being set in 1970 in a fictional suburb of Los Angeles, the movie reflects the hippie, psychedelic culture of the time period. However, it is not a psychedelic movie by any means, rather a neo-noir film that is wearing the skin of a psychedelic film.


Paul Thomas Anderson assembles a powerhouse of talented actors that do not disappoint. Anderson’s “Inherent Vice” does not detract from his past directing styles as seen in his other films such as “The Master.” Albeit a tad long and confusing, Anderson’s seventh film is definitely a nice addition to his filmography.