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Informers, The (DVD Review)

18 Aug, 2009 By: Billy Gil

Street 8/25/09
Sony Pictures
Box Office $0.3 million
$24.96 DVD, $34.95 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for strong sexual content, nudity, drug use, pervasive language and some disturbing images.
Stars Billy Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger, Winona Ryder, Mickey Rourke, Chris Isaak, Brad Renfro, Amber Heard, Austin Nichols.

The Informers, based on stories by author Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho), has all the trademark qualities of classic Ellis. Vapid, pretty people uttering bone-simple dialogue? Check. Nonchalance about sex and drugs that accessorizes more than glamorizes both? Check. Bottomless moral depravity? You bet.

Ellis, who co-wrote the screenplay and is a producer on the film, directed by Gregor Jordan, tells several stories about 1980s privileged Hollywood, including degenerate rock star antics, listless adults engaging in pointless affairs and decadent teens burning through money and lovers with nary a care. You’ll see some very big stars in these stories, and some of them get to really act: Mickey Rourke is typically sleazy and wonderful, Kim Basinger once again proves her detractors wrong in showing restraint and unexpected emotion, and the late Brad Renfro is sweet and sad as a lonely, put-upon doorman in his final performance.

But what The Informers lacks that Ellis’ best work has is a point to the whole mess, some sort of over-arching satirization that makes all the wicked fun worthwhile. The film attempts to deal with the rising AIDS crisis, adultery, father-son relationships and modern alienation but really only hints at these issues without exploring them enough, and unfortunately works in some morality clichés that don’t reveal anything new about the dangers of hedonism.

This leaves empty bacchanalia as the best reason to watch The Informers. Ellis recently commented that his favorite show of all time is “The Hills,” and some of the stilted, awkward dialogue is reminiscent of that show and Ellis’ first novel, Less Than Zero (which also, incidentally, was made into an inferior film) — characters seem to revel in their blankness. A friend of mine said he could barely make it through the film because the characters were such horrible people. That is what I liked about The Informers, but I would have liked to see it go further.

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