P.T. Anderson: Every Feature Film RANKED

7. Inherent Vice

Boogie Nights
IAC Films

Anderson's adaption of Thomas Pynchon's novel of the same name is a psychedelic California-set sleuth story. Anderson deftly captures the feel of Pynchon's novel, even if Pynchon's style is something of an acquired taste.

Describing the plot of Inherent Vice is a tad difficult, and indeed its convolution was one aspect that divided critics. Joaquin Phoenix plays Larry 'Doc' Sportello, a hippie P.I., investigating a number of cases in 1970 Los Angeles, all of which are related to the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend. With an ensemble cast featuring Josh Brolin, Reece Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, and Martin Short amongst many others, Inherent Vice is the sort of film best watched as an experience first and foremost, rather than a coherent narrative.

The extent to which Inherent Vice's flaw can be attributed to Anderson is questionable, as the film is a technical marvel with sumptuous cinematography as well as unquestionably excellent performances. Indeed, the blame falls squarely on Pynchon's novel, which is consciously post modern (or high modernist if you want to get into a literary debate). Still, Inherent Vice is an exquisitely performed and well crafted experience, even if it will turn off some viewers.


A philosopher (no, actually) and sometime writer from Glasgow, with a worryingly extensive knowledge of Dawson's Creek.