MOVIE REVIEW: Inherent Vice, a hippie film noir
FILM NOIR is a genre of stylish Hollywood crime dramas that emphasises cynical attitudes and sexual motivations.
Popular in the 1940s and 1950s, a typical film noir script included a male Private Investigator and a beautiful female acquaintance or former lover asking for help on a matter involving her personal safety.
The PI would normally uncover a bigger story, usually relating to the dealings of organised crime.
The main character was regularly a flawed man, riddled with substance abuse issues, normally alcohol.
Add up all these elements and scatter them around in a 1970s California setting and you have Inherent Vice.
Most characters in this film have names that you would expect to find at a pre-school in Nimbin or Mullumbimby, such as Sortilege, Shasta Fay, Ensenada, Jade and Bambi.
But let's face it, if the ladies in this film were called Sherley or Melissa, the film would not work.
The plot is simple, in a psychedelic '60s and '70s way.
Larry 'Doc' Sportello is surprised by his former girlfriend and her plot for her billionaire boyfriend, his wife, and the wife's boyfriend.
I know. Keep in mind this film is set in the 1970s.
A plan for kidnapping gets shaken up by the oddball characters entangled in this groovy kidnapping romp, based upon the novel by Thomas Pynchon.
The film is brilliantly shot, the direction is seamless and the cinematography strong.
The plot is quirky and animated, and the whodunit engaging.
Just keep in mind that psychosis from substance abuse sometimes hinders Doc's ability to uncover the truth. So how much of what you see is true is up to you to decide.
We watched this movie three times and every single viewing we came out with a different conclusion.
Discussion boards about this film on the internet are full of theories of what everything means.
Only one thing is sure in Inherent Vice and it's the fact that perception is always a failed process and cannot be trusted.
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson
Reviewer: Javier Encalada