"The Informers" is exactly as bad as you've heard. While a lot of raves came out of this year's Sundance Film Festival, no film was as maligned as the adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' "The Informers". While it sometimes has the kindness to veer into "so-bad-it's-good" territory, most of the time it just remains a chore as you watch paper-thin characters mope about their lives. It has nothing to say, no story to tell, no ideas to discuss. It just happens and you find that you're checking your watch not because you're wondering how much of the film is left but because your watch is more entertaining.
What makes "The Informers" so unique in its badness is that it's not just one terrible movie. It's a bunch of smaller terrible movies complied together with characters loosely related and all sharing the same time and place of Los Angeles in 1983. I know it was Los Angeles in 1983 because the film made sure to remind me every two minutes. "The Informers" never met an 80s cliché it didn't want to fuck to death and it murders every hairstyle, fashion choice, music cue, and cultural reference it can find. I can't decide which is worst: if director Gregor Jordan wanted to make the setting into a character and couldn't even manage a grotesque caricature but merely a cartoon version of what others have done to far greater effect, or if he just thinks his audience is so stupid that we'll forget where and when we are and start shouting in our finest retard-voice, "Hey! Why are people wearing such odd clothes?! What's this bizarre music?! How come it never rains in this city?!"
But we're too bored to even ask those questions. That can happen when your narrative has nothing of value. There are real characters in "The Informers". There are just hapless actors who have to go through the motions that range from banal (Billy Bob Thornton and Kim Basinger are a couple who don't love each other) to the mind-blowingly stupid (Mickey Rourke engineering the world's laziest and least dramatic child kidnapping while Brad Renfro freaks the fuck out). As I said before, the best you can hope for is the laughably-terrible and the film deceives you into thinking you'll get that as in the first five minutes, a random cliché 80s guy is mowed down by a car. We don't know this guy from Adam but his death is made all the more comic because it happens in the background. [Note to all filmmakers: if you hit someone with a car and they're in the background of the shot when it happens, it will be comic.] His funeral is equally comic and it almost seems like Jordan may be treating us to a satire. But then the film starts thinking these are real people with real issues and any notion of parody or commentary disappears and then it's just pale white people fucking and doing drugs interspersed with bad dialogue and incoherent motivations. Even elements which can typically escape unscathed from a bad movie like cinematography, music, and editing, seem to cry out "Hey, we're just as incompetent as the rest of this film!" Well, at least everyone's on the same page.
I found myself wondering if any of the stories in "The Informers" could work on its own. If instead of having to jump from awful plotline to awful plotline, the film could just take the time to develop any of these characters and their stories into something worthwhile and thoughtful. Even accounting for the lousy technical aspects, abrasive reminders of setting, and laconic acting, if it just developed one or two of these stories and put even a modicum of thought into their meaning, could "The Informers" at least be a tolerable movie?
And then Amber Heard contracted and died of AIDS within a week and I realized, no; no, it could not.
Rating ----- F