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With Jim Sabatini

The Informers

The Informers
Billy Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger, Winona Ryder, Jon Foster, Amber Heard, Mickey Rourke

Rated: R strong sexual content, nudity, drug use, pervasive language and some disturbing images
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: April 24, 2009 Released by: ITD

From Bret Easton Ellis's 1995 novel that takes place over a week in 1983 Los Angeles, comes The Informers, influenced by the late Robert Altman's long, yet memorably intersecting Short Cuts.

This discursive, often depressing cinematic escapade has a vibrant soundtrack, especially for those into the retro pop/rock artists like Wang Chung. And, the best character of a decent, attractive ensemble really is the City of Angels, captured in a kind of lustrous, decadent glory.

Starring Billy Bob Thornton (Eagle Eye), Kim Basinger, Mickey Rourke (top-notch in The Wrestler), and Winona Ryder, the film meshes vignettes together that are laced with sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll.

Ellis, who concocted the script with Nicholas Jarecki, contemplates the unhappiness of rich and often wanton folks, as sexually-transmitted disease are on the verge of coming into their view.

The protagonists consist of opulent young adults like Graham (Jon Foster of The Door in the Floor, resembling a James Spader during his Less Than Zero - also an Ellis novel - days), Tim (Lou Taylor Pucci), and Christie (Amber Heard of Pineapple Express and Alpha Dog). Graham is into his shallow, yet hip lifestyle as he copes with a death of a friend, and realizes what the promiscuous Christie means to him.

At Christie's swank flat, the doorman, Jack (the late Brad Renfro), has to deal with his sleazy uncle Peter (Rourke, having that nice tan) who embarks on a quick fix kidnapping scheme. Jack isn't rich, but interacts with them as they come into the lobby of Christie's building.

The other blossoming, if unfulfilled storylines include Thornton's William trying to make amends with Jack's mother, Laura (Basinger), who like Christie, is sleeping with Graham's best friend. Ryder's confused news reporter, is trying to get over the tryst with William. An unsuppressed Chris Isaak is Tim's lustful father Les, who isn't really interested in connecting with his son while in a Hawaiian paradise. And, there is dissolute drug-addled, band frontman Bryan Metro (Mel Raido) who doesn't limit his sights on underage girls.

No one really stands out here, with Renfro coming across as the least disagreeable of the morally-challenged bunch, and Isaak running with his part. Gregor Jordan (Buffalo Soldiers) doesn't really harmonize the hedonism in a revelatory way; the one strand with Renfro and Rourke may be the one with a legitimate close to it. Most of the others seem to dangle as more than a few males won't mind the parts with Heard, who definitely has something going for her rather than acting.

Still, The Informers blithely indulges on all ends of the social ladder, not with the panache of other Ellis works, like American Psycho. It exposes the narcissism and emptiness with equal pleasure as some scenes leave a lurid, voyeuristic touch to this drifting, revolving new wave soap opera.

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The Informers        C-      B            C+ 

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