Inherent Vice is a 2014 American stoner crime comedy-drama film. The seventh feature film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice was adapted by Anderson from the novel of the same name by Thomas Pynchon, and stars an ensemble cast including Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Katherine Waterston, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio del Toro, Jena Malone, Joanna Newsom, Jeannie Berlin, Maya Rudolph, Michael K. Williams and Martin Short. As with its source material, the storyline revolves around Larry "Doc" Sportello, a stoner hippie and PI in 1970, as he becomes embroiled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld whilst investigating three cases interrelated by the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend and her wealthy boyfriend.
Anderson's adaptation of Inherent Vice had been in development since 2010; it is the first time one of Pynchon's novels has been adapted for the screen. The film marks Anderson's second consecutive collaboration with Joaquin Phoenix following The Master and involves a number of his other recurring collaborators, including producers Daniel Lupi and JoAnne Sellar, cinematographer Robert Elswit and editor Leslie Jones. It is also the third consecutive Anderson film to be scored by Radiohead guitarist and keyboardist Jonny Greenwood, following There Will Be Blood and The Master.
The film premiered at the New York Film Festival on October 4, 2014, and began a limited theatrical release in the United States on December 12, 2014. Critical reception was polarized, but generally leant towards acclaim; reviewers praised the cast, particularly Brolin, Phoenix and Waterston, while criticism tended to focus on its convoluted plot and lack of coherence. It went on to receive a number of award nominations, including two Oscar nominations and a Best Actor Golden Globe Award nomination for Phoenix. The National Board of Review named it one of the ten best films of the year. Some reviews have said that Inherent Vice has the makings of a cult film.
In 1970, Shasta Fay Hepworth visits the rickety beach house of her ex-boyfriend, Larry "Doc" Sportello, a private investigator and hippie/dope head in Gordita Beach, a fictional town in Los Angeles County. Shasta tells him about her new lover, Michael Z. "Mickey" Wolfmann, a wealthy real estate developer. She asks Doc to help prevent Mickey’s wife and her lover from having Mickey abducted and committed to an insane asylum.