About midway through Gregor Jordan’s The Informers, Graham (Jon Foster), a troubled young man, earnestly says to a friend, “I need someone to tell me what’s good and what’s bad!” The youthful Foster may actually need such counsel if this movie is his or his agent’s idea of a good professional choice. As a matter of fact, several of Foster’s more mature co-stars—Billy Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger, Mickey Rourke, and Winona Ryder—may be in even greater need of such advice; they ought to have known better.
The principal perp behind The Informers is Bret Easton Ellis, whose 1994 volume of loosely linked stories of the same title is the basis for the movie. (Ellis also co-wrote the screenplay.) He’s probably best known for the 2000 film made from his sensationalist novel American Psycho, about a wealthy, young obsessively consumerist Manhattanite who is also a serial killer. Some people have taken it as a satire on American values. It’s unlikely this movie will be similarly received.
Set in Los Angeles circa 1983, The Informers consists of a number of mini-narratives involving a score of more-or-less interlinked characters whose paths cross over the course of several days. One family, the Sloans, functions as the closest thing to a focal point, but there is really no narrative fulcrum since none of the characters seems to have a moral or emotional center.
Nothing much really happens in The Informers, despite one violent death, a child abduction, and hints of an impending demise. This may be part of Ellis’ point, but it’s hard to separate it out from his customary tone of flattened affect and deep-dyed ennui. Ellis has long seemed to enjoy depicting lives of richly excessive privilege and self-indulgence too much for his readers to take the somewhat arbitrary notes of moralizing very seriously.
Director Jordan has apparently acquiesced to Ellis’ tone—it’s really an attitude—and the result is curiously remote. Despite recurrent nighttime aerial overviews of downtown LA, the film is light on the mise; the city isn’t much of a presence. But during one purported excursion to Hawaii, the beach scenes look like they were shot in California, in a minor irony.
Watch the trailer for The Informers
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Issue Navigation> Issue Index > v8n17 (Week of Thursday, April 23, 2009) > Film Reviews > The Informers
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