Inherent Vice: What You Need To Know
His first novel V came out over 50 years ago, but Thomas Pynchon hadn’t made it to the big screen until late last year. That long-awaited adaptation is Inherent Vice and it’s out on DVD now. Here’s everything you need to know about it…
What’s The Plot?
Right, here goes: It’s 1970 and we’re in Los Angeles, the hippy era is still going strong and it’s as easy to find mind-altering psychedelics as it is to buy milk. In the midst of all that a middling private investigator Doc Sportello is visited by Shasta, an old girlfriend, who tells him that her boyfriend’s wife has tried to get her to co-operate in his disappearance. 24 hours later said boyfriend Micky Wolfman is missing and so is Shasta, so Doc sets out to investigate. But, between a deadly drug cartel, a strange happy cult and some seriously deranged dentists, this investigation proves to be far more complicated than Doc ever planned for.
Who’s In It?
Joaquin Phoenix leads the way as the bumbling and permanently stoned Doc Sportello, with Reese Witherspoon as his on/off girlfriend and District Attorney Penny Kimball. Josh Brolin delivers a menacing and supremely grumpy performance as Detective ‘Bigfoot’ Bjornsen, while Owen Wilson, Katherine Waterson, Jena Malone, Benicio Del Toro and Joanna Newsom also have key roles.
Does It Deliver?
There’s a reason Pynchon has never been successfully adapted for the big screen before, his novels are dense and demanding tomes; they twist, they turn and they double back on themselves. Most people can only manage a couple of chapters in one sitting without getting the literary equivalent of an ice cream headache.
So it’s a credit to director Paul Thomas Anderson that he’s managed to adapt this sprawling and weaving novel for the screen at all. That said, this is a film that requires total concentration, switch off or head out to make a cup of tea and leave it running and you’ll miss a key plot point.
Part screwball comedy, part weirdo murder mystery, this is surprisingly gripping, beautifully shot and full of great one liners. It’s not an easy watch, but a brilliant one.
Inherent Vice is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray in hmv stores across the UK.