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Review of 'The Informers' - SBIFF 2009

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At the risk of being stoned to death by nearly every critic who has seen this film, I am going to admit that I genuinely enjoyed 'The Informers', and I'll tell you why.. But first... A brief rundown.

Adapted from a novel by Bret Easton Ellis (the author of American Psycho), 'The Informers' follows several varyingly interconnected stories, forming a partial but very familiar portrait of LA in the 1980's - narcissism, over-indulgence, big hair and all.  Some of the characters (most of the younger cast members)  brilliantly reflect the cresting of that cultural wave. There's the drugged and sexed-out new-wave-rock-star, a shallow, attention-seeking-slutty-blonde (Amber Heard), and the almost personality devoid Hollywood exec (Billy Bob Thornton, and Kim Basinger) and their spoiled, self-involved disaffected cocaine-snorting children.  

There are also characters who seem less close to the zeitgeist; the overly tanned Ford Econoline-driving ex-con (Mickey Rourke), and his twitchy, slightly overweight and tousled-haired hotel-doorman nephew Jack (Brad Refro).  

There are too many side-stories to mention, but in sum, you can expect the best of the worst of the 80's; shirtless-denim-donning pool-boys, bad drapes, orgies, AIDS bruises, adultery, plenty of coke, Flock of Seagulls, formica cabinets, and more Ray-bans than you can shake a rubics-cube at.  

Since the Sundance Film Festival, Gregor Jordan's adaptation of The Informer has been getting absolutely gutted by film critics.   There seems to be an odd absence of imagination, or careful inspection when it comes to this film.

This one characterizes most of the criticisms:

"The problem with the film is that with the exception of exposing just how hollow the lives of the rich and beautiful are, none of the stories really go anywhere and while a few are sort of wrapped up by the end of the movie, some are cut off without any real kind of resolution. In the end, we’re left to wonder what’s going to happen to these people. Open endings work for some movies, but a story this depressing needs some resolution. Without one, there’s no point here other than an empty examination of overindulgence." - Kelly West of Cinema Blend


But that's the point. The film intentionally (and beautifully) over-saturates and overindulges itself - with such deliberateness that it sometimes feels like it was actually made in '83.  Everything about it lulls you into that dark, steamy, predictable, naive and shockingly shiny 80's aesthetic.  The delivery is so seductive that you come quickly to expect that big 80's ending - a big moral resolution - or maybe even a series of small ones that magically explain how all these people effected each other. Thankfully, there is nothing of the sort.

I am not always a fan of films that 'go nowhere',  but I do like them more than not, because they have the nerve to explore reality as the best art does - by using our expectations to reveal uncomfortable truths;  Very little in real life gets resolved.  Very few endings are happy and lesson's aren't always learned.  All sorts of predictable and random shit just 'happens' everyday.   So I am supremely grateful for films like 'The Informers' that undermine our built-in cultural sense that we are somehow entitled to a 'point'.     


-by ws1 @ city2.0

**** 4 Stars (out of 5)

Image above is from the after-film Q&A at the Lobero.

Executive producers, Bret Easton Ellis, Vanessa Coifman, Helge Sasse, Brian Young, Jere Hausfater, Nicholas Jarecki. Directed by Gregor Jordan. Screenplay, Bret Easton Ellis, Nicholas Jarecki, from the novel by Ellis.  



Jon Foster as Graham

Kim Basinger as Laura

Billy Bob Thornton as William

Cameron Goodman as Susan

Winona Ryder as Cheryl Laine

Amber Heard as Christie

Aaron Himelstein as Raymond

Lou Taylor Pucci as Tim Price

Chris Isaak as Les Price

Jessica Stroup as Rachel

Mel Raido as Bryan Metro

Brad Renfro as Jack

Mickey Rourke as Peter

Rhys Ifans as Roger

Angela Sarafyan as Mary

Simone Kessell as Nina Metro

Suzanne Ford as Bruce's Mom


paulrivas says:

<p>great review! i couldn't agree more r.e. our feeling entitled to a movie with a point.</p>

2009-02-07 08:18:53 -0800

ws1 says:


2010-02-04 19:53:59 -0800

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