Well, for starters (and believe me, we’re just getting started here), Shasta’s boyfriend isn’t all hers. In fact, he’s a shady real estate mogul named Mickey Wolfmann who is married to a dame who may be responsible for his disappearance. In order to find Mickey, Doc must track down some seriously strange characters. Every new acquaintance introduces Doc to a fresh set of problems. Here’s an example: shortly into the film, Doc takes on another case, from ex-junkie Hope Harlingen (Jena Malone). Hope wants Doc to find out if her saxophone-playing husband, Coy (Owen Wilson), is in fact dead, as has been reported. When Doc finds Coy, the first thing Coy asks of Doc is to track down his wife, Hope, just to check in on her and make sure she’s all right. For whatever reason, Doc fails to tell Coy that he’s already met with Hope, and that she is in fact the one who hired Doc to look for Coy. Oh, and it turns out that Coy happens to have some information about this Wolfmann guy. Round and round we go.
So here’s the thing. It might seem like I’m trying to make this review purposefully confusing. So far, it could very well read as a poor attempt at opaque, snarky humor. The movie’s confusing, so my review will be too!. Trust me, that is not my intention. I’ve spent the last few days racking my brain about Inherent Vice, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no easy or clear way to present the information laid out in the film.
If you see Inherent Vice for its performances, then I promise you won’t be let down. Joaquin Phoenix is a performer chiefly concerned with never playing the same part twice, of which his Doc is perfect evidence. There isn’t a shred of Freddie Quell or Theodore Twombly or Bruno Weiss find within Doc. Through Doc, Phoenix embodies a Yeah man, whatever persona that is consistently hilarious. Brolin too is excellent as the tight-assed Bigfoot, brooding and shuffling around, chewing every possible scene beyond recognition. But the real star here is Katherine Waterson, whose bright eyes and effortless innocence manage to steal every scene she’s in. I’ve seen a plenty of movies that have featured Waterson, but I’m having trouble remembering her in any of them. This will no longer be the case.
One of the first things I said upon leaving the theater with my friend is that Inherent Vice is the kind of movie you have to see again (and again) in order to “get it.” Problem is, at that point, I had no interest in seeing it again. That was three days ago. Now, I can’t wait to sit down and let the world of this film wash over me again. B+
You May Also Like
Top 44 Things I Love About Magnolia (that no one talks about)