Inherent Vice: What's The Confusion?

Any prolonged period of hype tends to result in a negative consequence. You can only build up so much before you have to knock it down. While an upcoming film swimming lazily through waves of adulation and preening previews will inevitably suffer from catcalls and garish banners that read Not Worth The Hype, negative press sniffles will only create a whirling vortex of shittitude.

Which, helpfully, brings us to Inherent Vice. Thomas Pynchon’s novel of drugs, deceit, murder, sex and just about all else on Earth has been given the silver screen sheen by Paul Thomas Anderson, with Joaquin Phoenix, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio Del Toro and few others along for the ride.

So, back to the whirling vortex of shittitude: Inherent Vice has been on the receiving end of haughty would-be film critics walking out of cinemas claiming not to understand the film. Aww man, I’m sorry… is this a little much for you? Can we direct you to this ball-pit instead? Or perhaps a firing range to see how lucky you really are?

Thomas’ adaptation is not particularly difficult to follow. To our mind, the film’s central premise mirrors life itself: it’s all around, the bonds and links are intrinsic enough to cause collapse if twanged too hard and yeah, at times it doesn’t make a whole lotta sense.

Here’s an easy platform to throw you from: it’s Twin Peaks with weed and a few other drugs thrown in for good measure. Joaquin, playing the joint smokin’, attitude totin’ Jimmy ‘Doc’ Sportello, does the quintessential post-Manson hippy to a tee. It’s bug-eyed fear at the growing menace of twitchy authorities and a low, cool slouch to stay out of trouble.

But, things being as they are, Doc never manages to stay out of trouble. On a tip from an ex-love… THE ex-lover… Doc becomes embroiled in a bizarre unravelling that includes kidnapping, heroin, the Aryan Brotherhood, boats, a cold, calculating yet knuckle-dragging police nemesis (courtesy of a acting masterclass from Josh Brolin), massage parlours, errant dentists and the mysterious and all-powerful (or are they?!) Golden Fang.

Ultimately, the film is as loose as a number of the characters it allows to live inside it. Plot points may skew here and there, and phrases and utterances do fly off like so much dust in the wind, but remember what we said earlier: that’s what happens in reality too.

This review could spin off into a thick essay that attempts to tie everything together, but what’s the point? The beauty of things like Inherent Vice is it allows you to make up your own logic. Let’s try that. Inherent Vice is about the confusion that forms existence itself. Where things aren’t clear. Where signs go unnoticed. Where we allow good and bad to happen without protest or action. The variety involved provides both obstacles and clearings. It’s the whole ‘rich tapestry’ thing, you know?

See? Easy. Your turn now. Go see it and you tell us.

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