CATEGORIES Drama, Sundance, Theatrical Reviews, Sundance Reviews 2009, Reviews, Sundance Film Festival, Cinematical
Although his books seem particularly difficult to adapt, several filmmakers have done fine work turning Brett Easton Ellis' stuff into feature films. As a matter of fact, I'd go as far as to say that ALL of the films based on Ellis' books are actually better than the source material. Certainly American Psycho, and maybe to a slightly lesser degree on Less Than Zero and The Rules of Attraction. But with the arrival of Gregor Jordan's nearly unwatchable The Informers, Ellis finally got the adaptation we haven't been waiting for.
Little more than a jumbled mass of unrelated subplots, The Informers is about a bunch of rich, spoiled, disaffected, hedonistic, obnoxious, ungrateful and gorgeous young people who simply do whatever they want and abuse / dismiss / mock anyone who gives them a second glance. Why anyone would want to spend 94 minutes with a crew this venal and hateful is anyone's guess, but combine their collective unpleasantness with a screenplay that "adapts" little and goes nowhere fast, and you're looking at a movie that's an absolute chore to sit through.
We open with the inconsequential demise of one young idiot, which gives us an entry to the rest of the gang: One guy has a mega-slut girlfriend, but he doesn't really care about her carnal activities. Another is a hip video director who's sleeping with the other guy's mom ... and the slutty girlfriend. Another uninteresting tool spends the whole flick whining away during a trip to Hawaii with his dad ... and then there's the drug-addicted rock star who wobbles around and drinks a whole lot.
One can only assume that Ellis' goal with this collection of noxious tales was that he wanted to give each thread precisely two acts and nothing more. I say this because, while I have no problem watching beautiful people doing vapid things, I do have a problem with a bunch of mini-stories that offer zero in the resolution department. As each of the five or six subplots lurch to a close, one is left thinking "Dear lord, is that it??"
Since the film takes place in the mega-tacky days of Los Angeles in 1983, a large portion of the alleged subext has to do with the arrival of the AIDS virus. In one hilariously clumsy sequence, we see a TV report on hows this new virus causes bruises -- which is later followed by a scene in which the slutty girl starts complaining about, yep, bruises. It's obvious that Jordan was never going for subtlety here, but this stuff is delivered with the delicacy of a sledge-hammer. Even those who insist that the movie is not meant to be analyzed on a surface level will be hard-pressed to find anything worth discussing that resides BENEATH the surface.
Boasting vacant performances from a bunch of pretty young faces (and several blank-eyed performances from veterans who should know better, such as Kim Basinger and Billy Bob Thornton) and completely bereft of any sort of POINT, The Informers is an ugly, blank slate of a film, one that feels like a rough outline for one of the better Ellis adaptations. But I suppose that's what happens when you take a bunch of short stories and just wedge them haphazardly into one exploitative mess.