Inherent Vice: The BRWC Review

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Summarizing this adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel is no mean feat as the labyrinthine plot flits somewhere between James Ellroy’s seedy take on Los Angeles and Jack Nicholson’s Chinatown sequel The Two Jakes, with the occasional Fear & Loathing moment thrown in for when you get too comfortable. Murder, drug trafficking, dentistry and missing persons are the tip of the iceberg as laid-back PI Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) hazily drifts through a spiraling web of violence, lust and deceit.

In spite of its 70’s Noir sensibilities and quirks, Inherent Vice is possibly Paul Thomas Anderson’s most broadly accessible motion picture in many years. The writing is poetic and often hilarious while Jonny Greenwood delivers an outstanding score that adds nuance to standout scenes, underpinning Robert Elswit’s photography with an ultra cool vibe.

Laced throughout the movie is Thomas Pynchon’s prose in the form of narration from Folk artist Joanna Newsom, which adds to the noir’ish quality of this L.A. set tale. Katherine Waterston plays Doc’s ex girlfriend Shasta who leads him down the rabbit hole where he tackles the likes of square-headed flatfoot Christian Bjornsen (a wonderful turn from Josh Brolin), not-so-straight-laced Deputy DA Penny Kimball (Reece Witherspoon) and a hopped up doctor with a penchant for young girls (played with gusto by a devilish Martin Short).



Inherent Vice is a heady trip that draws you in and keeps you transfixed to the oddities that befall Doc Sportello. This is a world apart from the 70’s LA witnessed in Boogie Nights but definitely a place welcome to repeated visits.


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Regular type person by day, film vigilante by night. Spent years as a 35mm projectionist (he got taller) and now he gets to watch and wax lyrical about all manner of motion pictures. Daryl has got a soft spot for naff Horror and he’d consider Anime to be his kryptonite.

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