Ellis’ apathy gets formulaic in ‘The Informers’

Drugs and the dark side of L.A. don’t make this disjointed Bret Easton Ellis adaptation anything new

Like, we’re so rich all we do is drink and do drugs and wear Wayfarers. PHOTO COURTESY SENATOR ENTERTAINMENT CO.

Ashley Goetz

Like, we’re so rich all we do is drink and do drugs and wear Wayfarers. PHOTO COURTESY SENATOR ENTERTAINMENT CO.

âÄúThe InformersâÄù Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Mickey Rourke, Winona Ryder, Kim Basinger, Jon Foster Directed by: Gregor Jordan Rated: R Playing at: Area theaters âÄúThe InformersâÄù is the worst kind of movie. ItâÄôs an adaptation of a collection of short stories written early in the career of Bret Easton Ellis, author of such seminal works as âÄúAmerican PsychoâÄù and âÄúLess Than Zero.âÄù Page-to-screen translations notoriously have variable results, working either really well (see Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in âÄúAmerican PsychoâÄù) or not at all, like the bloated commercialization of the dismal âÄúLess Than Zero.âÄù But âÄúThe InformersâÄù does more than fall flat âÄî it totally dies. As the movie plays out, five stories unfold. It is 1983 and AIDS is just beginning to grab national attention, while the economy booms and the rich get enormously moneyed. First, thereâÄôs the token Ellis character with a heart, Graham (Jon Foster), and his group of friends with naught to do but snort cocaine and screw with no worries about deadly diseases. ThereâÄôs the troubled marriage of his parents (Kim Basinger and Billy Bob Thornton). Laura quells her despair with white wine, prescription drugs and sex with GrahamâÄôs friend Martin, while her husband carries on an affair with a newscaster (Winona Ryder.) Themes of complete disillusionment arrive via Tim Price (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Bryan Metro, a British rock star, who does little but drink vodka and sleep with teenagers. On the poor side of town, a doorman (Brad Renfro) and his thug uncle (Mickey Rourke) mix like oil and water. So how do these stories intertwine? The answer is: not well. Some of the characters interact, but tenuously. Like EllisâÄô novel, âÄúThe InformersâÄù meanders bleakly, and it gets old. The hedonism present in âÄúThe InformersâÄù doesnâÄôt come with quite the delicious fear that appeared in EllisâÄô other books. Translating from book to screen is famously difficult, and of all of EllisâÄô oeuvre, âÄúThe InformersâÄù was the worst possible choice. âÄúLunar ParkâÄù or âÄúGlamoramaâÄù would have been much better utilized, as those books have concrete plots and interacting characters. âÄúThe InformersâÄù is a shallow and empty painting of disillusionment, and because it came from short stories penned by then-ingenue Ellis, even the source material isnâÄôt much to work from. Ellis, who co-wrote the screenplay but doesnâÄôt seem too thrilled with the end product and changes made, said earlier this year, âÄúItâÄôs hard to tell now, but it was supposed to be like criminals and vampires and girls and young people. There were things I recognized, and a lot that I missed. But itâÄôs the directorâÄôs version of the script, and thatâÄôs just how it is.âÄù Even the final scene was unsatisfying, leaving the viewers, like in the Peggy Lee song, asking âÄúIs that all there is?âÄù 1 of 5 stars