The Informers – Review

Make sure you take a shower afterward

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Director: Gregor Jordan
Notable Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger, Jon Foster, Amber Heard, Austin Nichols, Mickey Rourke, Winona Ryder, Mel Raido, Chris Isaak, Lou Taylor Pucci, Rhys Ifans, Brad Renfro

When you descend into the depths of depravity, how far do you have to go before you can’t watch anymore? That’s what The Informers seems to ask and the result is one of the more unmatchable films of the past several years. And that’s not merely a statement of subject; unfortunately it’s also a statement of quality as a film that focuses on a subject like this demands good acting to make it something beyond rampant nudity and drug use.

The fulcrum to the Bret Easton Ellis novel which the film is loosely based on is Graham (Jon Foster), a drug dealer who’s in a bit of an open relationship with Christie (Amber Heard). He also happens to be sleeping with his best male friend, music video director Martin (Austin Nichols). She is, too, but they’re both not exactly monogamous in their relationship.

Graham’s dad, Hollywood bigwig William (Billy Bob Thorton) is trying to get back together with his mother, drugged out Laura (Kim Basinger). She’s strung out on a fairly regular basis, partly due to William’s continuing affair with news anchor Cheryl (Winona Ryder). Graham’s buddy, Tim (Lou Taylor Pucci), is on a disastrous vacation in Hawaii with his father, Les (Chris Isaak). They have a less than desirable relationship with one another. There are also storylines about a glam rock musician (Mel Raido) who exists in a creepy world of drugs and sex with minors as well as an amoral drifter (Mickey Rourke) who kidnaps and sells children that have ancillary parts in the film‘s major storylines.

Watching this film requires a shower afterwards as the entire film is one further descent into people who are amoral on any number of levels. Ellis, who adapted the novel for the big screen, crafted a world in the novel that was accessible due to its differing perspectives. The film version is more akin to what Roger Ebert referred to as a “hyperlink” film in which multiple storylines cross over one another and the film randomly zips from one aspect to another akin to surfing the internet. The problem is that the film is so dark that it becomes inaccessible; in the novel you’re able to sympathize with these characters in a weird way because of the way Ellis tells the story in chapters. In the film version this uniqueness is gone for a more generalized, third person view that takes a lot away from it.

In this kind of film it’s hard to stand out as an actor unless you’re very good or very bad; mediocre performances are easier to get away with due to the nature of the film. This film is noticeable because everyone is completely awful. Even top actors like Thornton and Basinger noxiously mail it in, knowing the material is beneath them. The film’s bright spot would be Amber Heard by default, but that’s only because of her lack of wardrobe. She spends the entire film naked for the most part and is easy on the eyes; it doesn’t’ excuse the fact that she’s dreadful, but at least you get something out of it.

The Informers is nostalgic for many, taking place in 1983, but the film wouldn’t have made it then as an edgy look at the lives of the rich and famous and doesn’t now for the same reasons: it’s poorly acted and in a subject matter that requires good acting to make interesting.


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