Inherent Vice is the seventh feature from Paul Thomas Anderson and the first ever film adaption of a Thomas Pynchon novel. When private eye Doc Sportello’s ex-old lady suddenly out of nowhere shows up with a story about her current billionaire land developer boyfriend whom she just happens to be in love with, and a plot by his wife and her boyfriend to kidnap that billionaire and throw him in a looney bin…well, easy for her to say.
It’s the tail end of the psychedelic `60s and paranoia is running the day and Doc knows that “love” is another of those words going around at the moment, like “trip” or “groovy,” that’s being way too overused – except this one usually leads to trouble.
Inherent Vice is an American stoner crime comedy film. The seventh feature film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice was adapted by Anderson from the novel of the same name by Thomas Pynchon, and stars an ensemble cast including Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Katherine Waterston, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio del Toro, Jena Malone, Joanna Newsom, Jeannie Berlin, Maya Rudolph, Michael K. Williams and Martin Short. As with its source material, the storyline revolves around Larry “Doc” Sportello, a stoner hippie and PI in 1970, as he becomes embroiled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld whilst investigating three cases interrelated by the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend and her wealthy boyfriend.
About the Story
In 1970, Shasta Fay Hepworth visits the rickety beach house of her ex-boyfriend Larry “Doc” Sportello, a private investigator and hippie/dope head in Gordita Beach, a fictional town in Los Angeles County. Shasta tells him about her new lover, Michael Z. “Mickey” Wolfmann, a wealthy real estate developer. She asks Doc to help prevent Mickey’s wife and her lover from having Mickey abducted and committed to an insane asylum.
At his office, Doc meets with Tariq Khalil, a member of the Black Guerrilla Family. Khalil hires Doc to find Glen Charlock, a member of the Aryan Brotherhood he met in jail, who now owes him money and is one of Wolfmann’s bodyguards.
Doc visits Mickey’s Channel View Estates project and enters the only business in the developing strip mall, a brothel/massage parlor, where he meets an employee, Jade. Doc searches the premises for Charlock, but he is knocked on the head with a baseball bat and collapses. He awakens outside, lying next to Charlock’s dead body and surrounded by policemen. Doc is brought to the police station and interrogated by Det. Christian F. “Bigfoot” Bjornsen of the LAPD. Here, Doc learns that Wolfmann has disappeared without a trace. He is helped by his attorney, Sauncho Smilax, who arranges for his release by the LAPD.
Doc then takes on his third “case” of the film. He is hired by former heroin addict, Hope Harlingen, who is looking for her missing husband, Coy. She was told that Coy was dead; but she believes he is alive because, shortly after his supposed death, there was a large deposit to her bank account. Coy seeks out Doc and says he is hiding at a house in Topanga Canyon. In a second meeting, he reveals he is a police informant and fears for his life, only wanting to return to his wife and daughter.
At his office Doc finds a message from Jade who apologizes for setting him up with the police and tells him to “beware of the Golden Fang”. He meets her in an alley, where she explains that the Golden Fang is an international drug smuggling operation. Doc talks to Sauncho, who gives him some information on a suspicious boat called the Golden Fang and tells him that, the last time the ship sailed, it was with Shasta on board. Thanks to a postcard from her, Doc finds a large building shaped suspiciously like a golden fang and meets with the dentist Dr. Rudy Blatnoyd.
Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Katherine Waterston, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio del Toro, Jena Malone, Maya Rudolph, Martin Short, Erica Sullivan
Screenplay by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Production Design by: David Crank
Cinematography by: Robert Elswit
Film Editing by: Leslie Jones
Costume Design by: Mark Bridges
Set Decoration by: Amy Wells
Art Direction by: Ruth De Jong
Music by: Jonny Greenwood
MPAA Rating: R for drug use throughout, sexual content, graphic nudity, language and some violence.
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: December 12, 2014