Director Paul Thomas Anderson adapts novelist Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice to create magic only found in real life. Featuring the talents of Joaquin Phoenix, Katherine Waterston, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Benicio del Toro, Reese Witherspoon, & more!

Written by: Keagen Fritz – July 5th, 2020 6:24 pm pst

Credit: Official Warner Bros. Inherent Vice artwork

Credit: Official Warner Bros. Inherent Vice artwork 

Inherent Vice extends the invitation for a hazy stroll with Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) through 1970 Los Angeles, during the downswing of the counterculture movement. The film suggests leaving your tiring reality at the door, as there won’t be any room for it on this journey into unfamiliar waters. Director Paul Thomas Anderson is usually best known for tight narratives that work tirelessly to pay off all loose ends. But here, he abandons this comfortable framework in exchange for something both fruitful and remarkably fresh. 

Credit: A seat at the last supper – Still   

That fresh ingredient comes in the form of Thomas Pynchon, an American novelist known best for his intricate, dense, and at times incoherent style that still manages to be riveting with every word. Pynchon’s stories are hard to follow as a whole but remain incredibly enjoyable in the moment. Of course, that’s by design, as Pynchon seeks to sweep you out of your mind and leave you with just your senses. 

Credit:  and Coy (Owen Wilson) – Still 

This loose structure Pynchon has developed mimics the inherently loose nature of reality, in that, things are just happening. This style of storytelling could come across as “low stakes” if you go in expecting a tightly wound noir with direct consequences for every on-screen action. When in actuality, Inherent Vice is asking you to decide what the stakes are based on your unique viewing experience. Whatever sticks with you is the point.

Credit: Doc and Shasta (Katherine Waterston) – Still  

That’s why this is the perfect film to watch when you find yourself scattered, or burnt out. Which given the current world climate, is entirely understandable. You don’t have to stress yourself about the vast noir conspiracy looming above, as it’s not how this story was designed to be experienced. This is not Chinatown, this is you and Doc. Both meandering side by side with vivid descriptions of a bygone era, becoming completely engulfed by the details. Pynchon’s intoxicating writing, combined with Paul Thomas Anderson’s visual magic, feels closer to time travel than cinema.

Credit:  Doc and his lawyer, Sauncho (Benicio del Toro) – Still 

How could you infuse a bit of that power into your own reality? When life’s overall narrative gets too exhausting, take Inherent Vice’s approach and put it aside. Instead, focus on the details and the divine encounters life unfolds for us every day. As in actuality, that is the real experience of life; that beautiful moment to moment process. What we deem the “overall” is simply something you fill in for yourself after the moments have passed, creating a mental quilt, stitched together by your subjective memory. 


Credit: A calm morning in the golden state – Still 

You can rent Inherent Vice on Amazon Prime and iTunes.    

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About The Author:

Keagen Fritz is a screenwriting and production major at California State University Fullerton with growing industry experience looking to make a living off the written word.  He currently writes for AfterBuzz TV and has his own series “The Universal Truth” where he dives into art to pull out messages that could relate to anyone.    

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