The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.
Inherent Vice (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Inherent Vice, based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon, is a good story. But an overly complicated detective story with too many characters for the screen. It features an amazing cast and I usually like Paul Thomas Anderson but here he’s long-winded and tries too hard to bring that dime store detective novel feel to the screen. Most of the movie is conversations, one after another, like those 50’s detective stories, but this is set in the early 70’s. So, it’s more of a hippie private detective story. Also, there isn’t a single scene in the movie where someone isn’t doing some drug or another. I love the era. I especially love women’s fashion and make-up from that era; mini skirts and long lashes but there was too much drug use back then… apparently. There are moments in the film that are pretty fantastic but they are few and far between. In the meantime there’s too many characters and too much dope and too much talking. It nearly put me to sleep..
I wanted to like Inherent Vice. But I did not. It reminded me, at times, of Mickey Spillane’s Kiss Me Deadly from 1955, just not as good. And with this type of film you usually get the detective as the narrator. But Inherent Vice makes that narrator a third person with an impossibly god’s eye view, she really shouldn’t have because she’s not there.
The whole movie just didn’t work because of the narration. But the performances are great. Some of the more zany elements are fun. And like I said there were some cool scenes and a nice story. I probably would have loved the book. So once again, I should have read the book before the movie. I’m not a fan of doing it the other way around.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice doesn’t work as a movie. First it’s too long. And because our hero handles three cases at once, there are too many characters. Too much narration from the third-party and too much drug use. But what really failed for me was the pacing. Inherent Vice almost put me to sleep. It’s atmospheric and laid back, like the 70’s.
Josh Brolin is a highlight however. He plays a crazy police detective who is constantly harassing, abusing and arresting Joaquin’s oft-stoned private eye. Brolin’s character is a real loose cannon. But he’s just so weird and very funny. Benicio del Toro, Reese Witherspoon and Jena Malone are all pretty good too. But Joaquin Phoenix as always wears his character like a suit. I’m starting to think he enjoys playing these wacky people because he likes inhabiting them 24/7.
But anyway, the mystery is interesting, if you can keep your eyes open. The performances are fun, including Martin Short as a heavy drug using, lecherous dentist. It’s just long, long-winded and complicated. I nearly fell asleep a bunch of times. There is however, at the end, a satisfying and exciting climax, if you can keep your eyes open that long, where our hero solves his cases like a champ and even gets the girl. Inherent Vice just needed to be about 30 minutes shorter and narrated by the P.I. himself.
Long-winded and boring.