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The Informers: Strike One for Ellis Film Adaptations

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informers_poster“Adjust my dreams for me.” It’s a short phrase, but can be interpreted in so many ways. Some people may find it a lazy request; some may see it as the catch-phrase of drug culture; others may see it as the words of a talented writer telling his future self to change the names, places, and most of the activities of a novel in order to make it even more confusing as a movie.

Introducing, The Informers.

For better or for worse, “adjust my dreams for me” is the main character’s cry for salvation from what his life has become in the Bret Easton Ellis book-turned-movie, The Informers. Unfortunately, the rest of the story is so messy that you feel that some of the plot-lines should have been made into short films.

In Bret Easton Ellis’ book of the same name, you are given a multitude of short story-type chapters, where characters are cross referenced in those chapters and even in other Ellis books. What is created is literary confusion, as most of the characters are part of an elite troupe of the LA scene and, with one exception, everyone is about sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. The movie is much like the book, except the names are traded around to make someone like me who has read the book even more confused. Half the time I was watching The Informers, I was pausing and referencing the book to figure out who the hell is who.

To summarize, the movie is about a dead playboy, a kid and his estranged drunken father, a separated couple in the midst of faking a reunion, a guy fed up with sleeping around and having his girlfriend sleep around(specifically with the guy’s best friend. There’s a nifty post-threesome scene), an out of work actor and his convict uncle, and a confused rockstar. The stories intertwine with each other throughout the movie as the characters try to find some peace. Or, something. Whatever it is, no one finds it. Not exactly the feel good movie of the year.

The acting isn’t half-bad. Mickey Rourke steals the show with the minimal screen time he has as Uncle Pete, the loving soul that sells kids into sex slavery, along with since deceased Brad Renfro as an out of work actor trying to do the right thing no matter what the cost. In a better world, this could have been the next Another Day In Paradise, but instead it is just part of The Informers. Billy Bob Thornton and Kim Bassinger play very well as a separated couple trying to patch their life back up. Unfortunately, their story doesn’t measure up to what is going on in the rest of the movie.

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Amber Heard, playing Christie, is naked for half the movie, which is awesome, but her interaction with her boyfriend, Graham, and his best friend are perfect in allowing Graham to get to that point where he’s had enough, but just can’t seem to break away from the cycle that his life has become. In the final scene of the movie, Graham goes to Christie as she’s sick with AIDS, lying on the beach. The interaction is intense when Graham meets Nina, the woman who called him to get Christie:

Graham: “Why me?”

Nina: “Well aren’t you the one that loves her?”

Graham: “What’s that gonna fix. Is that gonna help her?”

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   It’s not really going to help anyone in this movie, but as a hammer to the head as a realization that these characters will never get out of their own ways, it helps us as the audience, and somewhat saves this movie.

The story-line of the rockstar Bryan Metro is so stereotypical it barely makes a dent. Think Trent Reznor rumors right before “The Downward Spiral” was released.

In fact, the only really bad actor in the movie was Chris Isaak as a drunken father. Sure, he seemed drunk, forcefully, annoyingly drunk. Maybe he really was drunk because his acting was even worse sober. Who knows?

So does one actor ruin a movie? No. What killed this movie was  too much content, and not enough depth. Ellis got away with having multiple story-lines co-existing. He had a lot of space to play with in the book. But in a movie, we have 2 hours. While it can be done(like in Crash), it needs a distinct story to keep it moving, and a balance of cuts as we are moved from story, and unfortunately, this movie was lacking both of these.

I’d go as far as to say that the story of Graham and Christie and the story of Uncle Pete and Jack could easily have been great as short films, or even as feature films. I’d go as far as to say that these two stories could have co-existed together in this film if only the rest of the film was cut.

I give this movie 1-1/2 face-palming authors.

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Patrick began collecting a library of VHS tapes, DVDs, and CDs when he was young, and continues to build a library that could easily double as a video store and/or a revitalized Tower Records.

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