Sundance Review: The Informers

By Kelly West:

The Informers is all about sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. Well, new wave, technically but you get the picture. The film takes place in 1984 and follows a number of people most of whose lives are intertwined in some way or another. There’s the newscaster, the dissolute rock star, an ex-con, a voyeuristic doorman, and a bunch of rich blonde people doing drugs, sleeping around and over-indulging.

The story of the film essentially revolves around people who want it all and drift through life without a moral compass, wondering why they can’t seem to find happiness. After the death of one of his equally shallow friends, Graham (Jon Foster) begins to look at his other buddies, his girlfriend, his family and the life he’s living in a new light. He comes to learn that he actually loves his girlfriend Christie (Amber Heard), a shallow woman who seems to be sleeping with everyone, including Graham’s best friend. We see Graham struggle with coming to grips with his feelings while also trying to maintain his usual superficial lifestyle.

Meanwhile, the doorman at Christie’s apartment, Jack (Brad Refro) is having problems of his own. His uncle, Peter (Mickey Rourke) shows up with some teenage girl named Mary that we’re meant to assume he’s sleeping with and sets up shop in Jack’s apartment. Peter’s got a plan to make some quick cash by kidnapping a kid and selling the boy for a couple thousand dollars. Jack’s only connection to the rich blonde people is that he occasionally says hello to them when they walk through the lobby of Christie’s building. Their story arc seems virtually unrelated and Renfro’s character is pretty underdeveloped, but at the very least it’s one of the few stories that sees some kind of resolution.

Other subplot’s include Graham’s father (played by Billy Bob Thornton) trying to patch things up with Jack’s mother (Kim Basinger), who, like Graham’s girlfriend is also sleeping with Graham’s best friend. Winona Ryder plays a news reporter who is trying to distance herself from the affair she was having with Thornton’s character. One of Graham’s friends leaves for Hawaii to spend some quality time with his father, who seems more interested in meeting women than he is in actually trying to have a relationship with his son. And then there’s Bryan Metro, the lead singer of a band who has a substance abuse problem and a preference for teenage girls (and sometimes guys).

The Informers is written by Bret Easton Ellis, who also penned American Psycho, a film which shares a common thread of sex and drugs in the 80’s. Added to that is the threat of AIDS. Though the disease hasn’t made its formal introduction to the people in Graham’s circle of sex and drug-addicted friends, the threat still looms much closer than any of them realize.

The problem with the film is that with the exception of exposing just how hollow the lives of the rich and beautiful are, none of the stories really go anywhere and while a few are sort of wrapped up by the end of the movie, some are cut off without any real kind of resolution. In the end, we’re left to wonder what’s going to happen to these people. Open endings work for some movies, but a story this depressing needs some resolution. Without one, there’s no point here other than an empty examination of overindulgence.

3 Comments on “Sundance Review: The Informers”

  1. Saw pictures of the premiere on the media website of my company and most likely she wasn’t there…

    What I’ve heard so far about Informers a good descision by Winona.

    P.S.: also no pics from Mickey Rourke or Kim Basinger

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