Inherent Vice is a very bizarre film which is difficult to describe, but I’ll dig it a go.
Joaquin Phoenix plays private eye Larry “Doc” Sportello, who specialises in looking for people. First he’s looking for a man called Glenn Charlock (Christopher Allen Nelson), then Glenn’s employer Mickey Z Wolffman (Eric Roberts) gets kidnapped, then Shasta (Katherine Waterston), a young woman who appears early in the film goes missing, and then he’s tasked by Hope Harlingen (Jena Malone) to go looking for her possibly dead husband, Coy (Owen Wilson), to the point where I had to write down names just to keep up with what he has to do and all the people he’s constantly being asked to investigate!
I don’t read books (sorry), so hadn’t inhaled on Thomas Pynchon‘s novel with its drug-fuelled lead character. It’s one of those tomes, I understand, which is said to be unfilmable, and I can see why, as the storyline’s direction seems to change from one segment to another, and at times it feels like it was written with a random word generator, so don’t bother trying to understand a jot of this while you watch it…
It comes across as partly plain weird, plus not exactly well-structured, but the performances from the key cast members carry it through as they’re all at the top of their game, particularly Phoenix and Josh Brolin, as cop Bjornsen, frequently referred to his nickname of Bigfoot.
As for what ‘inherent vice’ is, not even the character who utters the words, at one point, seems to know.
Well, it does get explained shortly afterwards – in terms of relating to insurance – it’s not being able to insure against things that can’t be avoided, like eggs breaking, glass shattering, and so on… although, in reality, those things can be avoided by taking care.
And I can see what Mark Kermode said about how the trailer – cut by director Paul Thomas Anderson, himself – purposely gave a different impression of the film’s content, making it feel more like a comedy. I think a lot of people might just not *get* this film and won’t give it a chance, but it was worth sticking with as I enjoyed PTA’s Magnolia and Punch Drunk Love, but there are still other movies of his I need to catch up on.
The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and if I was to say it’s absolutely pin-sharp then I’d by lying, but that’s not a problem. Why? Because, to evoke the look of the period, Paul Thomas Anderson has filmed Inherent Vice on Kodak 35mm film. The print of this Blu-ray disc is as crystal clear as you’d expect, but bear in mind the filming process.
The sound is in DTS HD 5.1 and it’s generally just used for dialogue and ambience, so don’t expect this to rock your speakers.
The extras are scant. Perhaps this was intentional on the director’s part, but it’s simply four trailers totalling 11:10, the last one running for almost 6 minutes. Note that none of these include the trailer Mr Kermode referred to, so I’ll feature that below.
And to also buck the trend, PTA skimps on the chapters with a mere 10. Yes, TEN! WTF?! Does he know how long his film is? As a rule of thumb, I go by the rule of one every five minutes, which would be 30 for this film. Hey ho.
There are subtitles in English only, while the menu has the incidental music set to some clips or stills from the film, depending on the menu screen you’re on.
Running time: 149 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
Released: June 8th 2015
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen: 1.85:1 (Kodak 35mm film)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Producers: Paul Thomas Anderson, Daniel Lupi and JoAnne Sellar
Screenplay: Paul Thomas Anderson based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon
Music: Jonny Greenwood
Larry “Doc” Sportello: Joaquin Phoenix
Shasta Fay Hepworth: Katherine Waterston
Sortilège: Joanna Newsom
Lt. Det. Christian F. “Bigfoot” Bjornsen: Josh Brolin
Michael Z. Wolfmann: Eric Roberts
Deputy D.A. Penny Kimball: Reese Witherspoon
Dr. Rudy Blatnoyd, D.D.S.: Martin Short
Sauncho Smilax, Esq: Benicio Del Toro
Hope Harlingen: Jena Malone
Coy Harlingen: Owen Wilson
Crocker Fenway: Martin Donovan
Denis: Jordan Christian Hearn
Ensenada Slim: Taylor Bonin
Aunt Reet: Jeannie Berlin
Sloane Wolfmann: Serena Scott Thomas
Petunia Leeway: Maya Rudolph
Dr Buddy Tubeside: Martin Dew
Tariq Khalil: Michael Kenneth Williams
Jade: Hong Chau
Bambi: Shannon Collis
Glenn Charlock: Christopher Allen Nelson
News Reporter: Catherine Haena Kim
Amethyst Harlingen: Vivienne Khaledi
Luz: Yvette Yates
Riggs Warbling: Andrew Simpson
Cop with Bigfoot: Joe Dioletto
Agent Flatweed: Sam Jaeger
Agent Borderline: Timothy Simons
Burke Stodger: Jack Kelly (archive footage)
Chlorinda: Jillian Bell
Smedley: Christian Williams
The Boards: The Growlers
Clancy Charlock: Belladonna (as Michelle Sinclair)
Howdy Doper’s Phone Voice: Alina Gatti (voice)
Xandra: Elaine Tan
Japonica Fenway: Sasha Pieterse
LAPD Officer #1: Wilson Bethel
LAPD Officer #2: Anders Holm
Bigfoot’s Kid: Emmet Unverzagt
Dr Threeply: Jefferson Mays
Dr Lily Hammer: Erica Sullivan
Dr Threeply’s Assistant #1: Eva Fisher
Dr Threeply’s Assistant #2: Jackie Michele Johnson
Kimberly: Katie Schwartz
Dr Igor: Charley Morgan
Puck Beaverton: Keith Jardine
Mrs Chastity Bjornsen: Delaina Mitchell
Rhus Frothingham: Michael Cotter
Adrian Prussia: Peter McRobbie
Adrian Prussia’s Secretary: Shannon C Sullivan
Golden Fang Mother: Samantha Lemole
Golden Fang Daughter: Madison Leisle
Golden Fang Son: Liam Van Joosten
Golden Fang Father: Matt Doyle
Buddhist Monk: David Prak
Bodhi: Amy Ferguson
Zinnia: Emma Dumont
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.