Inherent Vice, Paul Thomas Anderson’s film adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s book of the same name, expanded into theaters nationwide on Friday after a limited December release. The movie is an opaque, blissed-out exercise in “slacker noir,” a burgeoning subgenre in which, as Chris Wade put it on Slate, “protagonists generally want to extricate themselves from the plot at hand, rather than get to the bottom of it.”
In that sense, Inherent Vice has much in common with films like The Big Lebowski, but in many ways it’s also a continuation of Anderson’s other films, which all explore the vulnerability and weakness of humanity. Over at Press Play, Nelson Carvajal and Arielle Bernstein make this point with a deft video essay, culling choice scenes from Anderson’s oeuvre to unearth the emotional motifs that anchor his work.*
*Correction, Jan. 10, 2015: This article originally attributed the video essay solely to Nelson Carvajal. Arielle Bernstein wrote the wonderful accompanying essay.