The Informers

The Informers


Reviewed by: Tony Sullivan

Los Angeles, 1983.

Bryan Metro (Mel Raido) his band, The Informers and entourage are coming to town.

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There is a hexagonal romance betwixt video maker William (Billy Bob Thornton) his estranged wife Laura (Kim Basinger), Newscaster Cheryl (Winona Ryder), socialites Martin (Austin Nichols) and Christie (Amber Heard) and minor drug dealer Graham (Jon Foster).

Then there’s boorish Les Price (Chris Isaak) attempting to bond with his son Tim (Lou Taylor Pucci) during a vacation in Hawaii.

Finally there’s hotel doorman, Jack (Brad Renfro), who gets involved in kidnap scheme with his shady uncle, Peter (Mickey Rourke).

In The Wrestler, Mickey Rourke's character notes that the Eighties were great and the Nineties sucked. The Informers takes the notion that the Eighties were great on the surface but sucked in reality.

Similar in style to Short Cuts - the fusion of Robert Altman and Raymond Carver - The Informers observes a moment or two of the lives of disparate folk with miniscule links to each other. One pair pass in the hotel lobby, others leap into a tangled morass of bronzed limbs on a bed.

The film paints the early Eighties as the Belle Époque for a generation, having snorted, bought and porked their way through everything and everyone we find our heroes pondering if there is anything else to life?

The Eighties are resurrected with Wang Chung and Pat Benatar on the soundtrack and everyone seems to have been issued Ray Ban glasses as though given them as a birth rite - style is in and so is hedonism.

Were the Eighties this greedy, this shallow? To a certain generation which grew up in them they have a rose-tinted hue of Transformers and ill-judged spandex, but they fuelled the rampant consumerism and gluttony that lead us to the current recession.

Sex. There are sex scenes in this movie. I was quite surprised. Sex seems to have become a taboo subject in Hollywood films as though they’ve adopted the Hay’s Code again, today’s leading men - Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Matt Damon et al - never seem to get their end away in movies. Yet in The Informers, beautiful people writhe… yet to borrow another Eighties movie cliché, from the Horror genre this time, if someone has sex, someone must die. This time the avenger isn’t a hockey masked maniac but a force of nature with a considerably higher body count, AIDS. In an attempt to be subtle about it, though, the film comes off like one of those Public Information films about herpes.

That Rourke, in what amounts to nothing more than a glorified cameo, convinces us that his evil character is scared of something more evil is a testament to his acting skill. Rhys Ifans has a nice moment when a Hollywood producer pitches an unlikely movie scenario to him and his stoned protégé, fatuously claiming that they turned down the lead in Amadeus…

Billy Bob and Kim yell at each other a lot and one wonders what doe-eyed Winona sees in Thornton's character. Renfro, in his last film appearance, is the only one who expresses any remorse, which makes an impression amid all the nihilism.

Interestingly another vignette concerning a vampire that was in the script (and novel) has been dropped from the movie, perhaps a mistake with hindsight considering the success of all things vampire related at the moment, but then we'd have flipped genres and such themes would have undermined the drama.

The Sixties, the Seventies, the Eighties, the Nineties – these curious divisions we put on time that seem to imply a transition of one thing to another when in reality there is a subtle flow to history. The Informers attempts to take a representative slice out of the time line and looks for insight where there clearly isn’t any to be found, this is a singularly repellent film - but I have the antidote - my Duran Duran video collection and I am Hungry Like the Wolf for it.

Reviewed on: 03 Aug 2009
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Wealthy Angelinos are consumed by a decadent Eighties lifestyle.
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Director: Gregor Jordan

Writer: Bret Easton Ellis, Nicholas Jarecki, Bret Easton Ellis

Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger, Winona Ryder, Mickey Rourke

Year: 2008

Country: US, Germany


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