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Inherent Vice

Coming Soon

Copyright © 2014 Warner Bros.

About 15 minutes into viewing Inherent Vice, whispers from the left aisle requested I scoot over a seat. I acknowledged the stranger and found my new home, but it was quickly evident that my new companion had indulged in (substantial) marijuana use prior to her tardy arrival. She giggled at the antics unfolding in the movie and bless her heart for offering me those Twizzlers. I declined multiple times, with my arms criss-crossed around my chest in a “thanks, but no thanks” repellant tone.

Writing that out reminds me of the relationship that upstages everything else unfolding in Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaption of the reportedly drug-filled scribbling from Thomas Pynchon. My seat neighbor and I were acting-out the relationship between Doc and Detective Christian “Bigfoot” Bjornsen (Josh Brolin), in real-time. She was Doc, somehow deciphering the nonsense PTA was splattering across the screen for two and a half hours. I was Bigfoot, stoic but able to accept our symbiotic relationship. She kind-of helped me understand this movie.

Inherent Vice is many things, many plots, many characters; but the scenes between Doc, Bigfoot and Shasta (Katherine Waterston) are the only scenes pertinent to the plot. In fact, once Doc solves the case (which occurs long before the film ends), you might as well bolt for your vehicle. Due to the film’s never-ending supply of disjointed subplots, the average PTA follower-on-down, will not care to sit through it.

Even though there are sprinkles of genius, I’m not convinced this has everything to do with the filmmaker. The movie is presented through the eyes of its drug-impaired protagonist (via an ex-assistant of Doc), which somewhat justifies the incoherent sequence of events. However smart that idea may be, it just didn’t work for me.

The real charm is delivered by the exceptional ensemble cast. The interactions (when you CAN understand the dialogue) between characters is outstanding. Doc and Shasta share beautiful chemistry, as does Doc and Bigfoot. Martin Short, appearing as a coked-out dentist, is an absolute show-stopper. Jade (Hong Chau), despite her limited role, thrilled the audience with her comedic timing. There are some serious contenders for acting awards.

In conclusion, I’m not sure how I feel about Inherent Vice. It is a beautiful piece of film. Make-up, wardrobe and the overall atmosphere of 1970’s California seem accurate to the era. Again, acting is superb and hilarious. It’s the convoluted storytelling of an overstuffed plot that killed my high.

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Movie Reelist Contributor: Chris Giroux
Chris Giroux is founder and editor-in-charge at Movie Reelist, an entertainment news and review blog serving the most fanatic moviegoers. Chris started his publication in Detroit in 2010 and has since reviewed hundreds of films and interviewed numerous talent across the country. He is an avid film festival attendee and red carpet photographer, having shot the likes of Steven Spielberg, Bill Murray, Mark Hamill, and more. Chris grew up in New Mexico, where he studied mass media writing while working in post-production and multimedia authoring. It is also where he discovered Big Trouble in Little China and Escape from New York, resulting in an unhealthy Kurt Russell obsession.

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