2013 received a nice slice of 1970s nostalgia with David O’Russell’s crime drama/comedy American Hustle, and now 2014 is getting its own serving from There Will be Blood writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson in the form of Inherent Vice, an adaptation of the novel by Thomas Pynchon. Starring Joaquin Phoenix as Larry “Doc” Sportello, a private investigator with killer sideburns, Inherent Vice is set in Los Angeles in 1970 and stars a broad range of interesting actors in a story that promises to be full of twists, turns and nefarious schemes.
Also starring Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson and Maya Rudolph among its cast of improbably-named characters (whose monikers include Bigfoot Bjornsen, Japonica Fenway and Hope Harlingen), Inherent Vice would make for a perfect double-billing with Dan Gilroy’s upcoming modern day L.A. crime comedy/thriller Nightcrawler. Based on the newly-released trailer for Inherent Vice, it seems to embody a similar kind of dark humor to that of the Nightcrawler trailers, with an added retro twist.
The plot of Inherent Vice is difficult to sum up in a single paragraph (or convey with a trailer), but it kicks off with a visit to Doc by his ex-girlfriend, Shasta (Katherine Waterston), who asks him to help foil a plot being organized by her new boyfriend’s wife and that wife’s boyfriend to have Shasta’s new boyfriend committed to a mental institution. That’s just the opening set-up, and things quickly get more complicated from there.
Don’t be intimidated by the premise; Inherent Vice looks like one of those movies that will make sense while you’re watching it, but will be difficult to explain to people afterwards. Brolin has described Anderson’s directing style as having “a really strange lack of pretense” and an allowance for flexibility that meant scenes could change and entire pages could be thrown out on the fly.
Anderson’s last film, The Master, was a critical darling and Inherent Vice may well end up being another hit for the writer and director. Between this trailer and Brolin’s description of the filmmaking process, Inherent Vice seems like it could be an insane but rewarding ride.
The trailer reveal was also accompanied by the first official poster for Inherent Vice, which prominently features a pair of legs and some garish pink lighting. It’s certainly eye-catching.
Inherent Vice is out in theaters on December 12th, 2014.