Inherent Vice is written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and stars Joaquin Phoenix, Owen Wilson, Josh Brolin, Benicio del Toro, Reece Witherspoon, and Katherine Waterston. The film tells the story of drug using private detective Larry “Doc” Sportello (Phoenix) as he tries to find his ex-girlfriend and her housing developer boyfriend, all while getting caught up in a drug smuggling operation . . . I think.
The main problem this film has is it’s incredibly hard to follow the story – most of the time you have no idea why Phoenix’s character is going from one place to another, Owen Wilson keeps popping up in some form of a role, and the rest of the cast appear in and out of different scenes to either shout or get high, sometimes both. From the trailers you think this is going to be a quirky crime/comedy set in the 70s. What it actually turns out to be is a very confusing, hard to follow film, set in the 70s.
Acting wise I can’t really say anyone did a bad job. It came across extremely weird however – if that’s the way the film was meant to be received then they performed perfectly. The only major problem I had sometimes was that it was hard to hear what people were saying and the narration that goes on throughout the movie just didn’t work for me. Other than that everything else seemed ok, but nothing more.
As the film was ending I thought it was just me that must have not understood something that was going on, or I missed some overall message, but when I asked the other people I saw the film with no one had a clue what was happening, they were just as confused as I was. From what I’ve written so far it sounds like I hated the film. I didn’t hate it, I wasn’t sitting there trying to claw my eyes out and rip my ears off just so I could stop watching it, I merely sat there confused for a couple of hours watching the story unfold without any sense of payoff.