The Informers: Gregor Jordan

14May09

by The Great White Gypsy

informers

I need to start reading more.
The Informers is the latest adaptation of one of Bret Easton Ellis’ novels (he wrote Less than Zero, Rules of Attraction, and American Psycho), and it’s on par with its predecessors. The story has been done in every sub culture in every decade since the 1930’s. A bunch of people living in L.A. in 1983 lead seemingly glamorous lives, full of sex, drugs, and music. But beneath the trendy, hedonistic cultural expectations lie real people with real emotional problems.
The film starts at an upscale party in Beverly Hills, where one of the “popular” kids is hit by a car and killed in front of everyone. In the aftermath of this tragedy, the main characters start to reexamine their lives and their priorities. Several different characters and storylines intersect and parallel each other. Dynamics are explored between husband and wife (Billy Bob Thornton and Kim Basinger), father and son, estranged down-and-out relatives (Brad Renfro, Mickey Rourke), and committed relationships involving orgies (all the best ones seem to).
One of the failings of American Psycho (personally my favorite Ellis adaptation) was that it was difficult to successfully portray it as a period piece set in the ‘80’s. Aside from the ridiculously large “cell phones”, it didn’t look all that different from the year 2000. The Informers, however, is 1980’s through and through. From the cinematography and editing (very well done by Petra Korner and Robert Brakey respectively) down to the period- and tone-setting soundtrack which includes Flock of Seagulls, Wang Chung, Pat Benatar, and Men Without Hats (everybody look at your hands!)
There are many compelling characters in The Informers. The title is actually the name of a popular band in town for a tour during the film, and the lead singer is the typical drug-addled, oversexed icon with a failed marriage and self-destructive tendencies. Thornton and Basinger give great performances as another failed marriage giving it a second chance. Jon Foster (who actually looks like a young Christian Bale) is fed up with the superficial aspects of the high life, and wants more from his girlfriend (both of whom are sleeping with their best friend, Martin…damn ‘80’s). Even Renfro and Rourke add an interesting element to the story as part of the lower class struggling to make it in L.A.
As with most films involving intersecting storylines, however, The Informers falls into the trap of never really flushing out all of the stories or characters enough to make you feel like any significant progress is made. At crucial scenes towards the end, when characters are supposed to be having breakthrough developmental moments, it still comes off as insincere and forced. It’s bad enough to be left hanging by one plot course, but four in one film is even more dissatisfying.
Inexperienced director Gregor Jordan does a respectable job all in all, never really lacking in the technical aspects. This just seems like one of those movies that, though not a complete waste of time (like Rules of Attraction) was probably better as a novel. And seriously, with everything going on in the world right now, do I really need another movie showing me the “downside” to being rich and beautiful in L.A.? If I need a dose of that, I’ll turn on The Hills for a minute (damn those rich white people have it rough…)
Final Grade: B



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