No matter how the final product turns out, one thing is for certain: Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of Inherent Vice will be one for the ages. It is the first adaptation of a Thomas Pynchon novel to come to the big screen, an accolade hardly diminished by the fact that Inherent Vice is the author’s most accessible and linear book to date. What’s more, the film is done by one of two contemporary directors best suited to produce a faithful and interesting version of Pynchon’s brilliantly meandering pastiche of detective fiction.
Inherent Vice features Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role of “Doc” Sportello, a pot-head private detective who investigates the disappearance of an ex-girlfriend in the midst of 1971 Los Angeles. In the process of investigating her disappearance, Sportello runs into any number of underworld characters, including badass police officer Bigfoot Bjornsen (Josh Brolin), and a lawyer named Sauncho Smilax, played by Benicio del Toro (who has experience playing drug-fueled lawyers from the 1970s). This is a Thomas Pynchon story, though, so be prepared for things to get very weird and existential in equal measure.
New York Film Festival director Kent Jones recently discussed the film, which still has not released any footage to the public. Here’s what he had to say (via The Film Stage):
Wild movie. You know, it’s the first Pynchon film adaptation, and it really catches his tone. It really catches the antic nature of him: the crazy names of characters, the nutty behavior, and then also the emotional undertone. It has the flavor of Pynchon. It has this Big Lebowski element to one side of it, but the emotional undertone, the desperation, the paranoia, and the yearning in the film… [Paul Thomas Anderson’s] an absolutely amazing filmmaker and it’s incredible to see him responding to someone else’s creation and then building his own creation out of it. He sort of did that with There Will Be Blood, but not really. It’s his own movie, inspired by the novel Oil!.
Well, it’s certainly intriguing, to say the least. While I was skeptical about Phoenix playing Sportello – I was personally hoping for Robert Downey Jr. to stick with the project – I admit that he looks the part. The same goes for Josh Brolin in the first image we saw from Inherent Vice, so I have great hopes for this film
Inherent Vice will finally open on December 12, though hopefully we’ll at least have a trailer and some footage before then. Meanwhile, you can check out the latest image of Phoenix below.