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Inherent Vice

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R
2014

Inherent Vice, a 2014 film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, is an intricate, psychedelic journey set in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Adapted from the novel by Thomas Pynchon, the film is a blend of neo-noir, crime drama, and stoner comedy that is decadently surreal and persistently elusive in its narrative.

Set during the tail end of the flower power era, the film transports us to the eccentric bohemian world of Larry "Doc" Sportello, a cannabis-loving, free-spirited private investigator living in the fictional Gordita Beach in Los Angeles, expertly played by Joaquin Phoenix. Phoenix’s thoughtful performance brings out an oddball charm, a vulnerable humor, and the world-weary loneliness in Doc, offering an uncommon detective protagonist haunted by the illusion of an idealistic past.

One day Doc's ex-girlfriend Shasta Fay Hepworth, portrayed by Katherine Waterston, mysteriously appears on his doorstep. She is worried and scared for her current boyfriend, real estate mogul Mickey Wolfmann. This chance encounter suddenly catapults Doc into an unforeseeable whirlwind of convoluted plot threads involving vanished people, double-crosses, narcotics trafficking, and mysterious organizations, providing an atmosphere of paranoia and uncertainty in the changing social landscape.

The plot thickens as Doc embarks on a detective quest that crisscrosses with a wild array of characters including his professional rival Detective Christian 'Bigfoot' Bjornsen (Josh Brolin), Coy Harlingen (Owen Wilson), a supposed dead saxophone player, and a myriad of other crooks and oddballs from all walks of life. The storyline obscures the boundaries between reality, hallucination, and conspiracy, inviting audiences into the fog of the post sixties radicalism and the looming establishment.

Josh Brolin's comic performance is commendable as the no-nonsense, hippie-hating detective Bigfoot, providing a stark contrast to Phoenix's Doc. Brolin’s 'Bigfoot' is a perfect synthesis of aggressive masculinity, law enforcement dedication, and a pervasive sense of longing for earlier days when the world was simpler. His interactions with Phoenix provide some of the movie's funniest and most tender moments, and their peculiar friendship brings a ray of light amid the narrative’s all-consuming haze.

Owen Wilson likewise delivers an exceptional performance as Coy Harlingen, a musician caught up in the underground world. Coy represents another facet of the era's disillusionment and frantic search for meaning, a man caught in a whirlpool of disillusionment and deceit, aspiring to return to his old life and yet paradoxically trapped in his new one.

Inherent Vice is an experience that is part mesmerizing puzzle and part lunatic opera; it captures the free-spirited yet paranoid mood of the era, painting a vivid picture of a society on the cusp of tremendous change. The film boasts of a sumptuous production design that meticulously recreates the early 70s landscapes with its atmospheric lightings and nostalgic color palette. The evocative mix of rock, pop and soul from the 60s and 70s on the soundtrack perfectly complements the film's ambiance, immersing us completely into the period.

The cinematography yields a hallucinatory quality to the proceedings, while the film's labyrinthine plot, delivered in a haze of smoke and confusion, mirrors the uncertainty and paranoia that was so characteristic of the era. Paul Thomas Anderson's direction takes the audience on a trip, with dense plot threads and colorful characters making it not so much an ensemble film as a sprawling, free-wheeling epic.

Inherent Vice might not be everybody's cup of tea, considering its complex arrangements and callbacks and the way it defiantly eschews the clear-cut resolutions of conventional narratives. And yet, for those attracted to its idiosyncratic blend of mystery, drama, and stoner comedy, it offers a bewitching trip into the chaos of a specific place and time, revealing the sadness and absurdity that lies underneath the rebellious spirit of the era.

To sum it up, Inherent Vice is a film like no other. Its story is a smoky labyrinth that wends its way through the underbelly and high life of Los Angeles during a turbulent era. The film is a cacophonous symphony of a detective story, part a stoner’s misty-eyed recollection, part a vivid presentation of an age of constant metamorphosis. The labyrinthine plot, unique performances, and Anderson's creative vision come together to create a magnificent ode to a world that is no more, a captivating saga of loss, change, and the search for identity against the backdrop of a transformative era. If you are a cinema lover who appreciates ambitious, offbeat films that reward repeat viewings, then Inherent Vice might be just the ticket for you.

Inherent Vice is a Drama, Mystery, Comedy movie released in 2014. It has a runtime of 148. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 6.6. It also holds a MetaScore of 81.

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Where can I stream Inherent Vice movie online? Inherent Vice is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Amazon Prime, The Roku Channel, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Inherent Vice for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

6.6/10
81/100
Director
Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars
Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Katherine Waterston, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio del Toro, Jena Malone, Maya Rudolph, Martin Short, Eric Roberts
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