This is one of the weirdest and most fucked-up film that amazingly made sense in the end! Paul Thomas Anderson has given us an oddly intelligent, stoner-movie that is definitely not for everyone, but with patience, it really was rather engrossing. And Joaquin Phoenix was brilliant in it - he owned the role.
Anderson's latest film was a beautiful and authentic 1970s crime dramedy. There were some cleverly written lines and laughs, yet beneath it all, a certain noir emotional longing that kept it from descending to stoner-schtick.
The central mystery itself was also rather riveting and held the story together as Anderson's script meanders in and out of one weed-hazed scene to another. Each seemingly unconnected but yet, like all drug-induced epiphanies, slowly came together to make sense. Thence, an Oscar nomination for Anderson's adapted screenplay.
I cannot imagine anybody else other than Phoenix in this role. Throughout the 148 minutes, Phoenix embodied his character and all his many facets: the maniac doped out energy, the despondent heartbroken lover, the dogged investigator. Not once, did he really seemed to lose character.
After 2012's The Master (also with Anderson), 2013's Her and the criminally underwatched The Immigrant, Phoenix has given another starling performance that reminds us why he is one of the best actors of his generation. And yet, again, he was not nominated for the Oscars. But the likes of Bradley Cooper scored his third nominations in as many years.
Josh Brolin had the next biggest role, but unfortunately, his character did not require much out of him other than to be a typical Brolin-esque character. Owen Wilson and Benicio del Toro had supporting roles that moved the narrative along; Reese Witherspoon and Martin Short were more extended cameos, whereas Jena Malone and Maya Rudolph were really just cameos. Katherine Waterston: new girl, some potential.
Kudos to the production team, and hair/make-up and costume designers for a great job! Particularly Mark Bridges who deserved his Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design. Loved the 70s soundtrack that was peppered throughout, but that made Jonny Greenwood's music less memorable. Robert Eiswit had some great cinematography, but not enough to stand out too.
Never having read the novel, nor any of Thomas Pynchon's other tomes, I cannot say how closely the film followed the original story, but - weirdly - I can actually see how the book would be written like. It does kinda want to make me read it.