Arguably the best director of his generation, Anderson’s latest film arrives in cinemas with high expectations, this is his seventh feature and he has an impressive track record, including The Master, There Will Be Blood, Magnolia and Boogie Nights.
Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye is an inspiration like that pic this one has a rambling narrative that keeps on leading the audience down rabbit holes. An audience looking for a satisfying conclusion to the mystery will be sadly disappointed however if you engage in the sprawling story, full of the odd and unusual there is much to enjoy. Anderson’s films often require multiple viewings to appreciate the craftwork involved, Inherant Vice an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel is no different.
PI, Larry "Doc" Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix), spends most of the two hour running time high smoking weed and shuffling from one incident to another. His ex-girlfriend Shasta Fay Hepworth (Katherine Waterston), appears from out of the past to ask him to investigate the disappearance of her current boyfriend Mickey Wolfmann (Eric Roberts). Real estate deals, the arian brotherhood, bikers, murder, kidnapping, cults, drugs, corruption and a mysterious cartel named the Golden Fang add to the growing complications of the meandering plot. Apart from the weed, Doc spends much of the film verbally and physically sparring with his nemesis come ‘bro’ Detective "Bigfoot" Bjornsen (Josh Brolin). It is all together hypnotic and transfixing and the cast is in glorious form. From Phoenix as Doc, the part fits like a glove, to Del Toro as a nautical lawyer. Memorable moments include a visit to a cocaine addled dentist played to the hilt by Martin Short, a visit to an Asian massage parlour that offers special discounts to cops, and Brolin sucking on a banana stick as if, well you do the math on that one.
There are many pleasures to be found in this dreamlike evocation of L.A.’s south-side in the seventies. Doc and Big foot are men out of sync with the world around them. Doc because he still seems to be addicted to a drug fuelled free wheeling haze of the sixties, Big Foot seems aligned to the conservatism of the 1950s before corruption engulfed the world around him. The film is less interested in tying up the mystery than in celebrating absurdity and the text.
Superb Production Design from David Crank and Cinematography from vet Robert Elswit are a highlight. Jonny Greenwood provides the score and Neil Young features on the soundtrack.