Rated: R for drug use throughout, sexual content, graphic nudity, language and some violence. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: December 12, 2014 Released by: Warner Brothers
Joaquim Phoenix reunites with his director of The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson, in an atmospheric, if confusing take on a Thomas Pynchon novel that may resonate most with those of the main character's addled ilk set in early 70s L.A. In some ways it could be this season's The Wolf of Wall Street in terms
of sheer outrageousness and plenty of narration. For some it may capture the times and fashions like American Hustle. Whatever the case, the Hollywood Foreign Press has rewarded Phoenix with a Golden Globe nomination.
Inherent Vice, with its share of fast-paced, neat dialogue and enough smoke and fog, literally and figuratively, could be Howard Hawks filtered through Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Especially when the vantage point and narrative is so conceptually convoluted while Anderson toys with an onlooker
with a distinctively taut dynamism that many may consider soporific. At least in this eclectic go-round as amplified by Jonny Greenwood's music.
Phoenix's long-coiffed Doc is a private investigator looking into the disappearance of property developer Mickey (Eric Roberts) who is the beau of his ex, Shasta (an attractive, concerned Katherine Waterston) who puts him up to what turns out to a tricky task. As Doc meets up with his professional foe, Det. Bjornsen (Josh Brolin with a similar entropy but presumably more of a family-oriented man) the tale still is challenging as the setting around Mickey's milieu becomes fuzzier as the loopy firebrand reaches the 'Golden Fang' which may be a front.
Like his other 70s (initially-set) film Boogie Nights, Anderson has plenty of characters on screen and surprises to stay off-kilter attuned as Owen Wilson's Coy isn't gone like figured and Reese Witherspoon's Penny looks to have more insight as a District Attorney pal of Doc. The colorful roles have Brolin really enjoying frozen bananas while Martin Short turns up as a scene-stealing dentist in the drug business.
A lurid ardor certainly is incessantly felt in particular scenes as there appears to be a free-spirited way around intelligibility or rationality when blurriness reigns when the overall scheme probably doesn't care about most of the characters. In streamlining Pynchon, the vice of an apace rambling Inherent revolves around intense conflicts with an outsized, wild Phoenix (and even Brolin) rising above an exasperatingly manic cinematic maze.