Inherent Vice Review

Paul Thomas Anderson brings to life the West coast of LA in all its 70’s charm! But why has this adaptation had critics raving but the public walking?

Adapted from the novel of the same name, Inherent Vice focuses on Larry ‘Doc’ Sportello, a private investigator tasked with finding his ex-girlfriend upon hearing she has gone missing.

Its always interesting when you get to the end of a film and not know whether the majority are going to love it or hate it! Paul Thomas Anderson does give us a beautifully set, well performed piece of art, but whether its his finite style of storytelling or a novel too complex for the silver screen, there is something that doesn’t quite jump out of the screen!

Given its recent nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay at this years Oscars, it seems only logical that it must boast an impressive story. Instead however, I found myself quite bored at parts, having to rely on my short term memory and concentrate wholeheartedly on things which seemingly had no relevance! Its this reason alone why I can see most of the audience walking out before the credits have even begun to roll, but is it enough to just abandon without giving it another view? – I’m not quite sure!

As adaptations go, it suffers most from its stubborn refusal to have any of its content removed and as such the story suffers tremendously. The whole experience then becomes a catch-up, frustratingly trying to remember what has been rather than what is happening. If I’m honest, its hard to judge it’s level of adaptation without having read the book, however its this complexity that affirms both how well its been adapted but also why so many people couldn’t follow it!

It may sound like I am condemning some aspects of the film, but in all honesty I am left quietly optimistic about it’s success! Although frustrated at the two hour mark that I had lost the plot once again, after I began recognising characters and following an actual thread of story, I was immediately drawn to the idea of watching it again! Unsure whether this was down to the electric performances of both Phoenix and Brolin or whether I did follow it more than I thought I did, the concept of watching it again does raise a fairly solemn eyebrow and it’s this feeling alone that makes me wonder whether the public are judging Vice a little too harshly!

Criticism aside, there are some moments of pure genius! As mentioned, the on screen chemistry between Brolin and Phoenix is great to watch. Their relationship tells the story of cop vs PI that mirrors almost an unexpected brotherly relationship between the pair!

The film also lovingly restores the 70’s, Anderson manages to catch the ‘stoner’ culture perfectly throughout a time defined by its drug and pop culture.

Its these small elements of film making that scream ‘best picture’ nomination – an achievement some will say is deserved but alas, will never be!

Like most other Anderson films, Inherent Vice is a film that will marvel critics but bore the masses – based on my first watch, its obly worthy of 3 out of 5 – but in my heart of hearts, this will only get higher with every viewing!

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