Inherent Vice, in so many words, means “an inescapable consequence usually of the negative variety”. Typically it’s a term used in insurance policies that excludes certain loss coverages due to the very nature of a particular item (or property) that inherently destroys itself. The film gives very small scale, simplistic examples of this, e.g. chocolate will melt, glass will break. The idea is that certain aspects of an object, whether it’s a car, a house, or in the case of this story, a person, will cause that thing to eventually, inevitably deteriorate and waste away. The characters in this film are, as a result of the many, many narcotics that they introduce to their bodies, falling apart at a rather rapid pace. At a run time of 148 minutes, by the time the credits begin to roll you feel as if you yourself have been on a three hour drug trip. You feel satisfied but a bit tired (This was my experience at least).
I once took several Benadryl and liquid, nighttime aid medicine (I wasn’t feeling well and I obviously wasn’t thinking clearly) at the same time. This began a night of never before experienced feelings of fascination and confusion (with everyday things like my own hand). I spent a half hour staring at my hand, moving it back and forth in front of my face wondering why my hand was moving in slow motion. At the time I wasn’t expecting to get high and so I was worried about what was to follow, but looking back now it’s pretty damn funny. Afterward it was a lot of self-examination, trying to remember what exactly I experienced. This movie left me with a similar feeling of “It wasn’t bad, but what in the hell happened exactly?”
If there is one positive thing that simply can’t be denied about this movie it’s the dialogue. It is both authentic and offbeat and, almost always, hilarious. The conversations between these many kooky characters are so pulpy and vivacious. It reminds me of something that comedian Louie CK once said of the word c*nt. He says it has a beauty about it, aesthetically speaking. He likens it to chocolate, a chocolate that is round on both ends. The dialogue in the film is like the word c*nt – a rounded piece of chocolate that just melts in your mouth that causes you to rejoice in its deliciousness. Was that crass? Sure, but do you really care? I didn’t think so.
The film’s story and progression operate as if the filmmakers themselves were on certain substances of questionable legality. I really see no other believable justification of how this story plays out. It’s at times incoherent and other times, mostly incoherent. There are brief moments of coherency but then someone lights up and down the rabbit hole we go again. In all seriousness it does in fact make sense (to a point) if you simply pay close attention. They talk fast, they’re almost always stoned on something and the tension between them is never alleviated. A bunch of tense, paranoid, drug addicted hippies and cops and dentists; it’s a circus of dubious actions and shady personalities. It’s a drug themed Boogie Nights… I mean more drugs than that movie contained, which was a lot. Less “porny” though, unfortunately.
Inherent Vice is without a doubt one of those films that people will either love in a cult classic sort of way, or they will hate it with an outrageous amount of disdain and resentment. This is a film where you really just have to see it for yourself. What did I think of it? I thought it was slower than I was expecting but ultimately it’s a fantastically dark comedy fueled by the 70’s lifestyle. Just the way they look is amusing; then they start talking and what a conversation it is. Inherent Vice is odd and heavily themed in specific ways all coming down to drugs and promiscuity. It’s a groovy time at the movies, can you dig it?
Rated R For: drug use throughout, sexual content, graphic nudity, language and some violence
Run Time: 148 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Katherine Waterston, Josh Brolin, Eric Roberts, Martin Short, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio Del Toro, Owen Wilson
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4.5/ Acting: 4/ Directing: 4/ Visuals: 4
OVERALL: 4 Nerdskulls
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