Author Bret Easton Ellis built his career on fictional exposes about the shockingly selfish behavior of the Reagan era’s cocaine-snorting, Ray-Ban-wearing, L.A. jet set -- and The Informers, adapted from a collection of his short stories, is no exception. Director Gregor Jordan, working from a script by Ellis and Nicholas Jarecki, populates the film with a number of soulless Angelinos including powerful film producer William Sloan (Billy Bob Thornton), who treats his wife, Laura (Kim Basinger), and his mistress (Winona Ryder) with equal contempt; William’s privileged, bratty, twentysomething son, Graham (Jon Foster), and his circle of oversexed, over-drugged friends; a criminal (Mickey Rourke) willing to kill a child if it will get him the cash he needs; and a rock star (Mel Raido) who’s grown so bored with fame and celebrity that he’d rather punch a naked groupie in the face than have sex with her. Their lives begin to intersect after a young man dies in a freak accident at a party, throwing Graham into an existential funk -- now that he’s glimpsed death, he finally begins to recognize the emotional emptiness at the heart of his coke- and orgy-fueled life.
Jordan continuously hammers home Graham’s newfound fear of mortality by loading the movie with constant reminders that the characters live in the early ’80s at the dawn of the AIDS epidemic. The incessant allusions to death weigh the movie down, killing any glimmer of satire or fun. It’s as if the director decided that he wanted first and foremost to communicate his contempt for the characters -- specifically by making sure their hedonism never seems pleasurable for even a second -- rather than making them three-dimensional. Because he takes this approach, there’s no one we can care about, and if the director obviously loathes these people, why shouldn’t we? So, in essence, The Informers fails precisely because we never believe these lost souls were ever human enough to have had a soul to lose in the first place. leave a comment --Perry Seibert