Friday, September 18, 2009

The Informant!

There’s a scene in The Informant!, Steven Soderbergh’s new refreshing film, that is unlike any scene I’ve ever seen in a film.  Without divulging too much, the scene has Matt Damon sitting next to his wife on their couch, a familiar FBI agent in front of them.  Suddenly Damon’s narration, which so far in the film has served only as a witty, stream-of-conscience plot device, finally makes a purpose.  Everything clicks into place.  The audience, along with the supporting characters in the scene, finally understand Damon’s character.  It’s the kind of scene that will get Damon nominated for an Oscar.

The Informant! is by far the most invigorating, mature comedy of the year.  Based on a true story, Damon plays Mark Whitacre, a high-level exec at an agri-business giant.  Unhappy with his work, he admirably goes to the FBI to whistle blow his company’s wrong doings.  What, we routinely ask, is Whitacre getting out of this situation?  And therein lies the bulk of the film.

Damon, who packed on some serious pounds, grew a bad mustache and an even worse haircut, has never been better than as the conflicted Whitacre.  His every move, from his facial twitches to his posture, are completely believable.  He makes the film a total joy. 

Steven Soderbergh is one of the few living American auteurs of cinema.  Whether he gives us his bare-bones indies (Bubble, The Girlfriend Experience), some heavyweight blockbusters (the Ocean’s 11 series) or a fresh mix of both (Traffic, Out of Sight), he never bores.  In short: I have yet to see a bad, or disappointing, Soderbergh film (yes this includes Solaris, Full Frontal, The Limey, etc).  His dedication to the craft of filmmaking is so evident, whether he’s attributing the ‘50s Rat Pack era, ‘70s crime, or even historical drama, the man can make a film (and shoot and edit, which he often does under pseudonyms).  I’m a fan, what can I say.

But sorry, back to The Informant!, which is a film for everyone.  Older crowds will enjoy the business politics of it (and they may remember the actual story), and the younger crowd will like the well-paced comedic timing (especially in that Adaptation-esque narration).

The preview for the film isn’t that impressive.  But for good reason. The Informant! offers up a lot of surprises, which are better discovered during the actual movie.  Damon, Soderbergh and the odd (albeit brilliantly played) cast are all in top form.  Sure to be one of the best films of the year.  A


  1. Yeah I really enjoyed this one, the actual film was much different than the trailer led one to believe. Nice change of pace, the inner mongologues and Damon were fantastic.

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  3. I think you've convinced me. I had felt Soderbergh was a sine wave of good movie, bad movie, but as look over his career, I'm not sure why I should have thought that. I don't really see a consistent string of bad movies. I do see a back and forth of big movie, indie movie, but there is not correlation with quality there. Hmm, don't know what I was thinking.

    In any event, The Informant! is definitely one of his good movies, not matter how you slice it, engaging and a lot of fun the whole way through.

    1. I love Soderbergh's One for Me/One for Them stance on making movies. His bigger flicks fund the tiny ones, and yeah, rarely is there a gap in quality.

      So seriously bummed that his retirement appears to be for real. That just sucks.