F and I went to see Inherent Vice on Sunday. The IMDB site contains the following pretty accurate summary of the plot.
1971. Larry Sportello – better known as Doc – is a pot head hippie private eye based in Gordita Beach in southern California. He is approached by ex-lover Shasta Fay Hempworth, who believes her current boyfriend, married land developer Mickey Wolfmann, is the target of an abduction attempt by his wife and her lover. In helping Shasta, Doc not only goes on a search for Wolfmann, but others who go missing, including Shasta, and one who is assumed to be murdered. Along the way, Doc gets involved with a crazy cast of characters and a wide array of issues from politics, cults, prostitution, the drug trade and dentistry, much of it surrounding the mysterious “Golden Fang”. Along for most of the ride is LAPD detective Christian Bjornsen – Bigfoot to most who know him – who is straight-laced on the outside, but who has a dark underside, which is supported by a hefty therapy bill.
This was an unusual film, to say the least, in that, after 148 minutes, it almost left the viewer with as many questions as answers. The main character, Larry “Doc” Sportello, played by Joaquin Phoenix, was a private detective. Yet he rarely appeared in a scene without being stoned, and he also appeared to have a doctor’s surgery. The connection between the nazi sympathisers who appeared throughout the film and the sanatorium in which the previously addicted were “cured” so that they could become hooked on drugs again was never explained. At times it was difficult to follow the plot. And the scene at the end when Bigfoot stuffs marijuana leaves into his mouth is bizarre. Yet I never found myself looking at my watch, and, overall, I felt strangely satisfied by the film. Perhaps one to watch again. Or maybe even read the Thomas Pynchon novel on which it was based.