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3 reviews, 7 user ratings

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Informant!, The
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by William Goss

"This Side of the Truth"
4 stars

Before the studio logo even has a chance to grace the screen, 'The Informant!' opens with a familiar enough disclaimer of how the names and events on which the film are based have been altered or otherwise dramatized. And then come the words, ďSo there.Ē

Itís a cheeky yet fitting indication that, in the wake of his austere work on The Girlfriend Experience and the epic undertaking that was Che, director Steven Soderbergh is gunning for something a bit more playful, a shaggy dog story about a real-life whistle-blower, Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon), who decides to alert the authorities that his agriculture conglomerate employers are up to no good and only proceeds to further complicate his situation from there.

Oh, if only I could tell you how or why our protagonist does just that, but part of the immediate fun and eventual impact comes from watching the best laid plans of both Whitacre and the F.B.I. come together and fall apart. Amidst all these well-meant deeds, Soderbergh flaunts an over-lit palette that tends to grow harsher with the growing light of day, while Marvin Hamlischís thoroughly old-fashioned score is similarly dialed back a bit as the film goes on (though not quite enough to keep it from being a most distracting indulgence, ulterior motives be damned). As for the funkadelic on-screen titles? The film takes place in the Ď90s, not the Ď70s, so your guess is as good as mine.

Helping keep an even keel throughout is Damonís uniquely dedicated performance, as a man who canít help but tell anything to everyone, embellishing matters until it feels like heís living out his own tailor-made variation on Crichtonís Rising Sun or Grishamís The Firm. His steam-of-consciousness narration, bringing to mind Seann William Scottís voice-over in last yearís little-seen The Promotion of all things, volleys from nonsensical trivia to self-aggrandizing stratagems in a manner both humorous and telling.

After her own revealing turn in Away We Go earlier this year, Melanie Lynskey goes for 2-for-2 as another supportive spouse, while a supporting cast of stand-ups and comedic actors that includes the likes of Andrew Daly, Patton Oswalt, Tony Hale, Joel McHale, Paul F. Tompkins and the Smothers Brothers are asked to play their parts straight in what may be the filmís biggest joke of all.

The Informant! isnít quite the flippant farce that the marketing or even the first hour might have you believe, but rather a dark-ish comedy whose follies grow increasingly and intentionally transparent as its lead bumbles along, unaware of how very consequential his actions will be. Like a work of sandpaper origami, itís delicately crafted, drier than the desert and almost exclusively amusing for its sheer peculiarity.

So there.

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originally posted: 09/19/09 05:59:45
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Venice International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Venice International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/13/17 morris campbell great satire funny too 4 stars
4/05/14 turner A great black comedy on an important subject with great acting. 5 stars
9/25/09 al rudolf the best of the year 5 stars
9/22/09 allan mcmillan brilliant 5 stars
9/21/09 These days the avenues of messaging and communicating with each other, on the computer, are 3 stars
9/20/09 Joseph F. Miranda Not the lol comedy that the ads make it out to be. The music could be better(elevator?).OK 4 stars
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  18-Sep-2009 (R)
  DVD: 23-Feb-2010



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