Inherent Vice review

Paul Thomas Anderson
Joaquin Phoenix
Katherine Waterston
Josh Brolin
Eric Roberts
Rated: R

The story of Inherent Vice is centered on Larry “Doc” Sportello (Phoenix), a detective who has less than orthodox methods and also happens to be a fairly heavy drug user. In the midst of one of his times of getting high, Doc is visited by a person who wants him to investigate the disappearance of a former girlfriend.

As Doc begins his investigation, he uncovers numerous things going on behind the scenes and runs into a variety of interesting characters along the way.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson has never been known for typical story-telling and “Inherent Vice” is no exception. While having a story that centers around detective work, “Vice” never feels like a classic mystery with high stakes. The fact is, the movie is less driven by the story and more driven by the acting and the situations the characters encounter along the way.

For a portion of this film, that style worked alright. There are plenty of funny and wild moments that make “Vice” quite entertaining to watch and it’s a film that a person can really sink into and just enjoy the experience… Somewhat.

“Inherent Vice” has a runtime that gets close to three hours long and there wasn’t really any reason for the movie to be that long. This is a film that could have benefited from more time in the editing room, because quite frankly, the movie has some moments that feel dull and it becomes a bit of a watch checker.

The movie doesn’t have any issue when it comes to acting, though. “Inherent Vice” has some great performances that help the film build an immersive atmosphere. Many of the characters have wacky personalities and the actors really bring them to life in an entertaining way.

Phoenix, for example, is on point the entire film, balancing being a lazy stoner and at the same time being one of only the sane person in the room at times.

Josh Brolin is also a highlight, playing the LAPD Detective Christian “Bigfoot” Bjornsen. Brolin has played the stoic law man well in the past and this is no exception as he creates a perfect contrast to Phoenix’s Doc.

What Anderson does really well in “Vice” is capture the decades in which the movie is set. The movie looks as though it was filmed in the 1960s or 1970s and has the look of a flick from that era.

“Inherent Vice” is a fun and entertaining film to watch with really solid performances and very vibrant filmmaking to give it a strong identity. The only problem is that the long runtime does start to be felt as it keeps going and the fact that this isn’t necessarily a story driven film make it difficult to stay into. It’s an enjoyable, but flawed picture. High 3 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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