Ashley’s Review : The Informers


Set in 1980s Los Angeles and written by Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho, Less Than Zero), multiple stories of dissolution and dreams are intertwined in a decade of decadence.  An impressive cast bring to life stories of a group of young friends that experiment with sex and drugs and their opulant lifestyles.  Amber Heard (Pineapple Express) plays Christie, an out of control girl that is naked or semi naked in most of her scenes and goes between having sex with her friends and doing drugs – eventually contracting HIV.  Her main boyfriend Graham (Jon Foster) struggles with accepting their lifestyle and understanding his dysfunctional family.  His father, William (Billy Bob Thornton), is a successful movie executive making a feeble attempt to put his relationship with estranged wife Laura (Kim Basinger) back together.  While with Laura, William runs into and can’t stay away from the woman that contributed to the end of his marriage, news anchor Cheryl  Laine (Winona Ryder).

The story also follows drugged up rock star Bryan Metro (Mel Raido), lead singer of The Informers, who has a penchant for under age girls.  As the story intertwines the lives of the wealthy, it also follows people that are hard on their luck, including Peter (Mickey Rourke).  Peter gets wrapped up in a kidnapping plot to get money and forces his nephew Jack, one of the late Brad Renfro’s last performances, into the scheme. The only truly moral character in the story is Jack and he is able to undo Peter’s scheme.

Bret Easton Ellis directs this film, which has a lot of potential in its statements about the culture at the time, but maybe its a situation where Ellis should have written the screenplay but not directed the film.  The music by Mark Buys is great in capturing the feeling of the time period and the makeup, costume and hair are also believable and allow the audience to escape to that place and time.  The story just isn’t there.  A lot of talented stars are featured in the film but don’t have enough time on screen, or big enough roles, to fully explore their characters.  Kim Basinger does a lot with a little, conveying her drugged up and empty life through her listless movements and sad eyes.  She sleeps with her son’s friend, leaving him to try and get back together with her emotionally withdrawn husband.  Winona Ryder is doe eyed and interesting as the news anchor dodging William’s advances after getting burned by him.  Thornton plays a believable cad,  pursuing his former lover while also trying to keep up the appearance of a normal family life.

It seems the story just wasn’t there – too many characters and too many storylines without an actual cohesive story being told.  I left thinking, what was the point?  New ground is not covered in the film and there is not a central message.  This film probably won’t get or retain the following that Ellis’ other successful projects have, but is worth seeing as a study of the general mentality of 1980s Los Angeles.