To form a cohesive thought on this movie initially appeared impossible. It's a film with so many sub-plots, red herrings, suspicious characters and chaotic events that by the time we cut to black and the title appears once more, you will feel stoned. That's not to say I've ever taken drugs before, but from what I've studied, and from what the characters in this movie do during certain situations, the feeling is almost the same. It's a nonsensical, never ending ride that's an absolute blast from beginning to end.
While the narration is provided by Joanna Newsom, the film tells the story of Doc, who in my opinion is the most intriguing character to be put on screen in many many years. In almost every scene, Doc can be found with a joint in his hands and shoes absent from his feet. He's a hysterical nut job with a tendency to say peace, and an outfit to suit. While he may be insane and his perspective is unreliable, a scene in which Josh Brolin's character Bigfoot talks to him through his TV being the best example of this, he's not out of the times. He gets it. He understands what he's doing, even if he's not always sure how he got there or what he's meant to do next. He's in the now and as an audience member, so are we.
Speaking of Josh Brolin, he's almost unrecognisable here as this hippie hating detective who, ironically enough, plays a hippie in a television commercial early on. Whether that was really him or if it was one of Doc's many hallucinations, who knows. It doesn't really matter when it comes to this movie. Brolin is hilarious as Bigfoot, showing us his true talents as an actor, and also showing us how wrong we've been eating bananas all these years.
However, what Anderson manages to do even better than write is direct. There are countless shots in this movie that are the definition of gorgeous. The way he effortlessly moves the camera through the scene is something I wish to aspire to. His shots are long, weaving in to the important details. There's not an abundance of angles and cuts, but instead, he takes his time, he shows us everything in great detail and the result is something brilliant.
To sum up, Inherent Vice is a two and a half hour drug trip that, to put it simply, is all sorts of awesome. It's got Joaquin Phoenix and Paul Thomas Anderson at their best, and that alone should be the reason why you need to see this miraculous piece of cinema.