Following their collaborations on There Will Be Blood and The Master, Jonny Greenwood penned a lighter-hearted, more free-wheeling soundtrack for Paul Thomas Anderson’s wild adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s cult novel - a groovy, funny mystery set in 1970 drug-fuelled Los Angeles, during the dying days of free love.
The zig zagging story follows weed and beach-loving private detective Doc (Joaquin Phoenix) who takes on a missing persons case for a troubled ex-girlfriend. Nosing his way into a conspiracy involving a cast of characters that includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, LAPD Detectives, a tenor sax player working undercover, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang (which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentists!), it’s fair to say the complex plot is unapologetically weird. Just embrace it, this is blissed-out bamboozlement of the highest order that does a remarkable job of replicating Pynchon’s crazy kaleidoscope of crime, dope and raunch.
Greenwood's score reflects perfectly mid-century L.A.'s seedy underbelly as well as the novel's intricate blend of intrigue, humour, and philosophy. Crab hopping from psych-rock Can numbers, and Neil Young ballads to Disney-like orchestral interludes, the varied soundscape brilliantly encapsulates both the film and the book’s sense of dislocation and head-scratching befuddlement.