Inherent Vice Review: For This Big A Failure, There Will Be Blood

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Paul Thomas Anderson has made some of the best films in recent memory. Inherent Vice is not one of them. 

This film is successful at two things: capturing the look and feel of the 1970s and infusing that with the classic noir tale. It is a failure at just about everything else it tries to do, and at two and a half hours, it is a long failure.

We follow drugged-out private-eye Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) on his investigation to find his ex-girlfriend’s boyfriend. But with nothing to connect to, it’s hardly a journey at all. Inherent Vice‘s biggest problem is that it lacks humanity. There are funny characters, but nothing to relate to or root for.

The story isn’t interesting enough to carry the film on its own. It plays like a noir version of Fear and the Loathing in Las Vegas, but not as outwardly cooky and with way more “important” plot points to pay attention to.

This brings me to Inherent Vice‘s second biggest problem, its incoherence. The story is so messily put together that it’s nearly impossible to keep track of. This being more of a drug movie than a crime drama, that ends up being the point. But what a shallow point to make. Paul Thomas Anderson has proved that he’s a better filmmaker than that. Many times in fact.

I guess that’s what makes Inherent Vice such a travesty. It’s a black mark on a great artist’s career. I never expected the man behind There Will Be Blood to make such a boring, detached film. But the whole thing feels phoned in with the excuse being that drugs are everywhere in this movie. Inherent Vice is one of the biggest disappointments of the year, proving that not even the great Paul Thomas Anderson is immune to making inherently bad films. Grade: D

By Matt Dougherty

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