D: Gregor Jordan. DP: Petra Korner. W: Bret Easton Ellis & Nicholas Jarecki. Starring: Billy Bob Thorton/Kim Basinger/Mickey Rourke/Winona Ryder/Jon Foster/Amanda Heard/Rhys Ifams/Chris Isaak/Austin Nichols/Brad Renfro/Lou Taylor Pucci/Mel Raido. (NOTE: Based on Bret Easton Ellis’ book of vignettes of the same name).
It’s glossy, it’s flashy, it’s expensive, it’s sexy, it’s high, it’s Los Angeles circa 1983. But if you take away the lush and infamous fashion trends, materialism, gratuitous sex and drugs, there isn’t much of, what do they call it? Story.
American Psycho has yet to be followed by an Ellis piece of as much weight and excellence and unfortunretly The Informers follows that trend. Structurally it divides the audience attention as there are far too many stories that are so cutely connected that you don’t care on principle as the film already thinks it’s being clever. But then again your palate is also never satiated with only but one story, a father and son’s forced Hawaii retreat, because there isn’t any tension or climax. And for a film so steeped in sexual adventures a climax seems highly necessary.
Thorton and Rourke walk through their scenes with such boredom that we almost wait for Miss Heard to get there and flaunt her body some more, at least it’s distracting. Foster does somewhat well here, all frost and gloss in his posh life, but his tortured affection for Heard leaves something to be desired. When you are sleeping with that many people, can we believe you love anybody? I mean, besides yourself.
And of course as with any film looking back on the 80s we see the infiltration of HIV into the youth of this country, an experience documented so differently on screen that The Informers take on the denial of the situation actually seems fresh. The country will continue despite this awful disease and are we anymore the wiser? I don’t know. But I hope you are now the wiser. Always read Ellis’ work before the films and don’t expect much, we already have our beloved psycho.
(NOTE: This was also Brad Renfro’s last role before he died of a herion overdose in January of 2008. Give him a moment, and yourself, to think about being here today.)