INHERENT VICE, adapted from the book by Thomas Pynchon, was directed and co-written by Paul Thomas Anderson.
Thomas Pynchon is supposed to be a genius, according to the four people who have actually finished one of his ‘works’ (I tried “Gravity’s Rainbow” and after fifteen pages of its 760 I was ready to volunteer-test a diving suit in the Marianas Trench) and he helped Anderson craft the screenplay for this stuffed, meandering satire of private eyes/hippies/California/the 60s/druggies/coherence.
Anderson gets fine work from actors, and he has a great visual sense with his cameramen, but he seems to enjoy wallowing in ugliness for its own sake, and needs to learn how to E-D-I-T. This runs 148 minutes. His previous film was The Master, which was likewise overlong.
Joaquin Phoenix does a good job here, and there are missions of actorish conviction from Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon and Benecio del Toro. Newcomers Katherine Waterson and Joanne Newsome get plenty of screen time. Martin Short digs into his few scenes with a fury, and Eric Roberts has one superb bit. Also on hand are Jena Malone, Maya Rudolph, Hong Chau, Jeannie Berlin, Michael Kenneth Williams, Michelle Sinclair, Martin Donovan, Jefferson Mays.
It drew Oscar nominations for Screenplay and Costume Design. Costing $20,000,000, it made back just $14,711,000 worldwide, limping into 142nd place for 2014. I wonder how many people walked out of this in theaters? My guess is a lot. Reviews were split between those who thought it was amazing, and those who found it agonizing.