—01. Larry ‘Doc’ Sportello and Penny Kimball.
Adapting a novel by the godfather of high-paranoid, Thomas Pynchon, sounds like a near impossible proposition, but of all the author’s complex and sprawling stories to choose from, Inherent Vice definitely offers the best possibility for success. With acclaimed writer-director, Paul Thomas Anderson, accepting the challenge of turning an unfilmable novel into a movie, the suggestion suddenly becomes plausible; even an absolute perfect fit when you think about it. I’d known this was happening for quite a while and waiting years for its release was incredibly difficult, with many a Google query along the way for assurance that it was still happening.
It stands out for the sole fact that it has brought together a trifecta of masters in their fields: Pynchon, Anderson, and Phoenix. Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) is played with an incredibly light touch, all mumbles and dope haze, but at times still broad with numerous great pratfalls, that help to create the rollicking comic feel often present in this loose detective story set in Los Angeles in 1970. For all of the subplots and U-turns, and plethora of characters present in the narrative, the film is shot with a very basic simplicity, often utilizing long takes and no pans, with the camera’s only movement being a slow zoom that adds a feeling of voyeurism. Anyone in for a straight and easy ride, with no bumps or detours, will simply not understand Phoenix’s hazy performance, or the whole of this stoned film for that matter. But Inherent Vice might be one of the most successful and faithful adaptions of a novel that I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying the way it should be; I read the book and then watched the movie.