“Inherent Vice,” Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, director of “There Will Be Blood,” “Punch Drunk Love,” and “Magnolia,” is adapted from Thomas Pynchon’s 2009 novel of the same title.
Critics describe “Inherent Vice” as a hippie noir, stoner noir, or psychedelic noir. “Inherent Vice,” concerns Doc Sportello’s, a weed-strung, long-haired, easy going gum shoe’s hunt of Mickey Wolf Man.
Doc Sportello starts on the trail after Shasta, a blond hippie flower child with a spaced out Beverly Hills new age accent strolls through his door with news that her boyfriend Mickey Wolfmann has been kidnapped.
Mickey Wolfmann is an eccentric real estate mogul, who is suspected of being kidnapped and placed in a looney bin.
Doc and Shasta had a past fling with one another years before the events of the film. The love fling is flashed back to us at different stages of the film.
The flashback meant to ground the connection between the case, Shasta, and Doc’s motivation to pursue Mickey Wolfmann.
While Doc trails Wolfmann, we are introduced by a picaresque of eccentric characters: a hippie hating cop, a drugged up drug counselor, a perky chick locked in an insane asylum, a sex for sale girl, a sax player, and many others.
While on the quest, Shasta disappears. Shasta is suspected to be kidnapped by the same crew, who kidnapped Wolfmann. Soon, Doc is surfed onto the nefarious dealings of a group aboard a cruiser, known as the Golden Fang.
Various Critics claim “Inherent Vice” is meandering and plotless. Despite these claims, the film does contain a plot.
To understand why the film meanders, one needs to be grounded in 60s culture and cinema, as well as up-to-date on classic noir films. “Inherent Vice,” when considering the style of classic noir narrative and the techniques of French New Wave, when critiquing the film, is very well structured.
When I viewed the film, I was reminded of the French New Wave films of Jean Luc Goddard. Scenes from “Inherent Vice,” such as naked women painted on ties, flashed several scenes from Goddard films, such as “Pierrot Le Fou,” and “Weekend,” into memory.
French New Wave cinema contained unnecessary chatty dialogue between characters. French New Wave directors like Goddard and Truffaut used chatty dialogue between characters to illustrate the personality of a character.
Quentin Tarantino, Director of “Reservoir Dogs,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Inglorious Bastards,”also uses chatty dialogue to achieve the same effect.
The dialogue between characters is clever. The banter accurately depicts the environment in which it is set, while interjecting nods to various period pop culture references, as the scenes drive along. “Inherent Vice” reels-in-loyal noir nostalgic narrative.
Film Noir is composed of flash back of a protagonist’s past relationships and past life-changing events, such as the Doc and Shasta flashbacks in films.
Film Noir is composed of a series of interviews and double dealings with characters in a world seemingly unredeemable. “Inherent Vice,” trails along a similar structure.
I hope Paul Thomas Anderson chooses to adapt more of Thomas Pychon’s novels. I think “The Crying Lot of 49” would an excellent choice.