Saturday, August 15, 2009

Review - The Informers

Set in Los Angeles in the early 1980's, a sex filled and drug induced narrative follows the lives of an array of characters and their addictions from the rich and famous to the lonely and deprived. The fragmented stories are pieced and connected through each of their downward spirals.

Director Gregor Jordan's depiction of Brent Easton Ellis's novel is a dreary and somber look into the 1980's period of sexual decadence. The narrative moves at a sluggish pace intertwining morally challenged individuals through their various addictions, leaving the viewer wanting something more. For the most part the performances are stale and by the conclusion of the film, the viewer is completely unattached to any of the shadowed characters.

There were some aspects to "The Informers" that were fantastic and others that just didn't fit. For instance, two of the main story lines or narratives are very compelling, however the other two not so much. Instead they distract the viewer. The characters in two of the narratives are furthermore, not flushed out enough to even care. It almost felt that too much of Ellis's original novel was cut in order to keep a 98 minutes running time.

The film spends a majority of it's time focusing on the youth of the story. Following the character Graham (Jon Foster) as he's spends his nights caught in the 80's lifestyle between the drugs and sexual escapades with his girlfriend (Amber Heard) and other various partners. While Graham's narrative is compelling it's conclusion is abrupt and brutal at the same time. The ending ultimately hammers home the message that the party had to end sometime. Foster's performance as Graham is good, but he plays the character so uninispired that it becomes hard to feel his pitfalls. Amber Heard on the other hand, delivers a ineffective performance. She is the sexual deviance (of sorts) to the film and her acting goes unnoticed, when you do finally see her in clothes.

The score and soundtrack to "The Informers" really does a fabulous job of capturing the era. All of the music is perfectly set and the score does a nice job of transitioning between the various story lines. I was instantly attracted to the score utilized during Brian Metro's (Mel Raido) scenes. There was a dreary undertone to his dissolute character that was flawlessly matched by the score. Credit Mel Raido for delivering a somber performance that screamed of the debauchery his career had created.

Performances by Brad Renfro, Winona Ryder and Mickey Rourke are a bit of a let down. Renfro especially, considering this was his final performace before his untimely death. Each of their performances becomes lost in characters that are glazed over and not given enough screen time. You even begin to ask yourself why the Renfro and Rourke's storyline as Jack and Peter wasn't ommitted entirely from the film. Rourke plays a amoral convict named Jack, who is doing a job that he'd rather not give all the specifics to. He comes to stay with Peter (Brad Renfro) and dumps all of his problems on him leaving both of them, in a very awkward situation. The story line could have worked if more was developed there, but the minimal and fragmented structure to their story became the biggest disappointment to the film.

In the end, I enjoyed "The Informers" despite a lot of its downfalls. The film had lofty gains to tell multiple stories that were probably better in book form. The performances were flat, but matched the somber mood to the mutli-layered story. I loved the look and themes of the film and despite having an abundant amount of nudity and perversion, the scenes were handled delicatley enough, that they never become uncomfortable to watch. I cant say "The Informers" is for everyone, but if you grew up and appreciate the decadence of the 80's, it is definitely worth a watch. Finally, "The Informers" is easily the worst film developed from an Bret Easton Ellis novel, but it is still gives a capable representation of the core to his original novel of short stories.


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