Saturday, May 30, 2015

Movie Review: Inherent Vice

When I look back on director Paul Thomas Anderson's oeuvre, I am surprised by how many of his films I've seen without trying to see a lot of his films. Of his major motion pictures, there's only one I haven't seen (Punch-Drunk Love). The others, I've all seen: Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will be Blood, The Master, and now Inherent Vice.

Usually I'm sucked in by a good bunch of reviews and an interesting sounding premise. (Except Magnolia, a 3-hour-plus movie, which I watched on the recommendation of a co-worker.) And I'm often left dissatisfied. Anderson isn't a conventional film maker. His stories tend to be a jumbled and unsatisfying as life really is. The writing (as far as dialogue) is always good. The acting is usually superb. But at the end you want some sort of resolution and you never get it.

Inherent Vice is no different. Very well made, often funny, always quirky, with clever dialogue, it never-the-less leaves the viewer wondering "is that all?" The story is convoluted and hard to follow at times. But the pay off in the end isn't satisfying. You can enjoy the movie, just don't expect everything to be wrapped up in a neat little package at the end.

The performances are all very well done, especially Joaquin Phoenix who is almost unrecognizable as Larry "Doc" Sportello, a shady private investigator. The story is set in 1970 and Anderson does a commendable job of capturing that era.

I recommend this movie if you like quirky films. But if you like Hollywood-type endings, this movie will frustrate you.

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