Robert Whitfield is a designer and writer.

This is where he writes about design and music. You can find out more about Robert here.

Inherent Vice

Whilst there has always been a cinematic quality to Pynchon’s prose, for a long time the novelist’s work was considered by many to be unfilmable. So when news emerged that Paul Thomas Anderson, director of The Master, There Will Be Blood and Boogie Nights, would be leading an adaptation of Inherent Vice interest from fans was piqued. Here was an auteur director with experience of directing enthralling movies that have examined the American psyche at key points in its history. If anyone could take Pynchon’s “unfilmable” prose and put it up on the big screen with true respect for the source material and the audience, it was Anderson.


Released in the UK at the end of January, Inherent Vice is a truly mind-melting cinematic experience. The novel’s meandering shaggy dog tale has an attention to detail that’s quite simply extraordinary - from the set dressing, the costume design and even the decision to film on 35mm (including some heat damaged stock) - this is a film that captures the period perfectly and it’s worth watching purely for the way Anderson creates a tactile sense of the early 70s. It’s as though the film itself has been discovered in a canister after being presumed lost for over 40 years.

At the core of Inherent Vice is Joaquin Phoenix who plays the film’s protagonist, stoner PI Larry ‘Doc’ Sportello. Possessing the style of Harvest-era Neil Young and sporting some impressive mutton chops, Phoenix presents the loveable, shambolic detective...

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