FILM REVIEW: Inherent Vice (15)

Joaquin Phoenix.

Joaquin Phoenix. - Credit: Archant

Joaquin Phoenix emerges from his professional hiatus in this groovy drug-fuelled crime caper by Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, There Will be Blood).

Unconventional private investigator Doc (Phoenix) is dragged into a sordid kidnapping and extortion plot via a soft spot for his troubled ex-girlfriend.

Doc’s well-placed friends in marine law (with a fantastic cameo by Benicio del Toro) and the district attorney’s office (a surprising appearance by Reese Witherspoon) get him out of some sticky spots and help piece together what’s up with his ex’s boyfriend, his wife and her lover.

Yet another A-list bit part went to Owen Wilson as the ‘disappeared’ husband of an old friend whose fate inadvertently helps to reveal the double, triple and quadruple crossing at the highest levels in 1970s California.

But it turns out that Doc is more connected than he imagined and may know more than he thought.

Narrated from on high by a celestially connected mutual friend of Doc and his lost soulmate, Inherent Vice takes you on a neon-lit psychedelic ride, leaving you at once wondering if you understood anything at all yet feeling as though everything played out as it should have.

It’s complex yet easily followed and stylishly substantial.

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If only the Academy didn’t have such a ‘thing’ against Phoenix - he’d be a front-runner at next month’s Oscars.

Ashley Whittaker ????