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The Informers



Adapted by Bret Easton Ellis (Less Than Zero, The Rules of Attraction, American Psycho) from his own 1994 novel about the excesses of the rich and not-so-lucky in Hollywood circa 1983, this shallow film seems out of touch now in a time of economic turmoil — even if it is disguised as a period piece. Presented as a multi-story look at L.A. at its sordid best, The Informers introduces us to a sleazy movie executive, his estranged wife, her poolboy lover, a coked-out British punk rock star, a fading newscaster, a voyeuristic doorman, a slimy ex-con and any number of beautiful, vapid, sexed-up twentysomethings who seem to spend their days either partying or snorting, immune to any kind of social consciousness in an era marked by the dawn of the AIDS epidemic.


The ensemble cast is split between older stars who've seen better days and a promising group of new talent unfortunately caught up in this mess. Billy Bob Thornton sleepwalks through the studio exec role while a pre-Wrestler Mickey Rourke (in a glorified cameo) shows us the kind of dreck he's been stuck in the last few years as a tough ex-con who seems obsessed with someone called "the Indian." Kim Basinger survives intact as a long-suffering Hollywood wife looking for a human connection from anyone who crosses her path, while Winona Ryder projects just a shadow of her once-promising career as the aging newscaster. The late Brad Renfro, who himself apparently fell victim to a drug-induced lifestyle, is oddly touching as the peeping-tom doorman. Filling in the lost youth part of the equation are Jon Foster, Amber Heard, Austin Nichols, Lou Taylor Pucci and amusing British star Mel Raido, who do the best they can with their clothes on and off. Chris Isaak and Rhys Ifans also turn up in minor roles.


For what it's worth, The Informers has been handsomely shot and does capture emotional deadness well, but unfortunately there's nothing behind the façade of a group of characters we just don't care about.


Ellis covered this all in Less Than Zero — same era, same losers — so did we really need a LESS THAN Less Than Zero in 2009? It's also a shame to see a fine group of actors so completely wasted, both on screen and off.


The tenor of the whole film is summed up in the ice cube-filled bathtub sequence where a drunken, almost catatonic British rocker proceeds to nearly kill himself trying to light a cigarette and answer a phone that NEVER stops ringing.


This movie may already be available on DVD before you finish reading this review.



Bottom Line rated this film 1/2 star.