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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Drugs > Record Business > 1980s > The Informers (2009/Sony Blu-ray)

The Informers (2009/Sony Blu-ray)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C     Film: C



Bret Ellis Easton has become synonymous with the 1980s as a period of shallow fast burnout, but that idea has become a hip, acceptable set of clichés that actually negate how bad the 1980s really were and why.  This is why film adaptations of his books are increasingly worse.  Less Than Zero (1987) was passable and came from its time period, the battle over American Psycho (book and film) turned it into something beyond the 1980s and Rules Of Attraction (2002) was such a disaster, it was an embarrassment.  Gregor Jordan’s film of The Informers (2009) is almost as bad, though it did not have to be.


The film attempts to pull off a multi-layered storyline about lost lives and doomed lives in early 1980s Los Angeles, partly involving the still-hot record industry and rise of fast sex and hard drugs as AIDS just starts to set in and media/government ignorance allows it to run rampant more than it should have otherwise.


The film has a surprising amount of nudity, gay baiting, sexuality and coldness, but that coldness is more cliché than say, Kubrickian.  Nevertheless, the ideas were so compelling, that a major cast signed on hoping for the best including Mickey Rourke, Kim Bassinger, Billy Bob Thornton, Winona Ryder, Rhys Ifans, Amber Heard, Austin Nichols, Singer Chris Isaak and the late Brad Renfro.


It is Renfro who gives one of the best performances, but even he cannot save the makers’ inability to juggle the storylines or achieve more character development the film sorely needed.  Despite 1980sisms, the film only sometimes feels like it is from that period.  Other times, it gets so lost that it could be from any period and that is bad.  Trying to make an Ellis novel into Crash is also a very, very bad idea.


Of course, the biggest tragedy is that Renfro could (or would) not get the help he needed (Isaak, the class act he always is, tried to get him to seek it) and we lost one of the greatest actors alive and certainly of his generation.  The news of his loss was lost in the great (and more greatly reported) shock of Heath Ledger’s death, but it was Renfro who had taken tons of risks hardly anyone his age had.  Because he was dubbed difficult and was sometimes trouble on the set, Renfro did not become the bigger star he could and likely would have.  It is a huge loss to see him gone and is the #1 reason to see this film, no matter how uneven and problematic it is.



The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is shot in Super 35mm film, but the image is too soft throughout and what that would have to do with the 1980s is nonexistent.  Whoever handled the digital internegative got carried away and this lands up not looking as good as it could have.  The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix is also weak; a dialogue-based film with loud music where the two are not quite balanced and the talk may not have been recorded as well as it could have been. 


Extras a making of featurette and cast/crew feature length audio commentary, but no outright tribute to Renfro.  Oh well.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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