April 30, 2009


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The Informers (R)
The horrible children of privilege are crushed by their own ennui in The Informers, a sulky movie based on a collection of Bret Easton Ellis short stories.

The movie is a collection of short stories too — dreadful, dreary little stories that wind around each other like choking vines. Hollywood executive William (Billy Bob Thornton) and his fragile wife Laura (Kim Basinger) consider reconciling even though William is still in love with the newscaster Cheryl (Winona Ryder), with whom he’s been having an affair. William and Laura have two angry late teens/20something children, including Graham (Jon Foster), who is in love with the sexually adventurous Christie (Amber Heard). Graham and Christie regularly sleep with Martin (Austin Nichols), who is also (unbeknownst to Graham) sleeping with Graham’s mother, Laura. Christie and Martin also have some sort of relationship with Nina Metro (Simone Kessell), the ex-wife of lascivious rocker Bryan Metro (Mel Raido), who is always seen just about to or just having had sex with groupies who are probably criminally young. And then there’s Tim Price (Lou Taylor Pucci), a friend of Graham’s who goes to Hawaii for a vacation with his boozy, inappropriate father Les Price (a wonderfully sleazy Chris Isaak).

At the edge of this pool of wealthy pathetic juvenile adults and their self-important depressed offspring is the poor, twitchy doorman Jack (Brad Renfro), whose “Uncle Peter” (Mickey Rourke), a man of dubious relationship to Jack and clearly evil intentions, shows up at Jack’s house with a drugged up, probably under-aged girl and proceeds to do one horrible thing after another.

Seldom do movies this bad yet this flamboyantly convinced of their own greatness actually make it to movie screens. Think of the most pretentious, gag-worthy movie you’ve ever seen and I’m willing to bet this movie is worse. It is in love with how “artsy” it is, how important. It clearly thinks it’s offering up some brilliant social commentary. It is, in fact, offering a tour far up the recesses of its own intestinal cavity. The movie seems to want to examine in detail the motivations, morality and personalities of its trite, one-dimensional characters but as hopelessly self-involved as these characters are we actually get nothing about their inner lives (quite the feat for a movie that seems to be about inner life). The Informers also seems to be in love with the sound of its own archly self-conscious dialogue, and seems to revel in its 1980s badness as though there is some brilliant meta commentary in all the stupid hair and embarrassing fashion.

There isn’t, though — there isn’t anything redeemable, enjoyable, entertaining or even darkly humorous about this movie. There is only a bog of self-absorption and self-importance slowly sucking in all characters and plot like dinosaurs sinking into tar. F

Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, drug use, pervasive language and some disturbing images. Directed by Gregor Jordan and written by Nicholas Jarecki and Bret Easton Ellis (from his book), The Informers is an hour and 38 minutes long and is distributed in limited release by Senator Films.