Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The Informant Review: Would you hire The Informant? - Movie Reviews, Film Reviews, Movies, Films, Entertainment, Film Entertainment, TV, Television, TV Reviews, Television Reviews

Back in 2009, one of the first films that I went to see at the Toronto International Film Festival was The Informant, starring Matt Damon and Scott Bakula. I had never really checked out a film festival before and so the experience itself was rather strange. It’s interesting then that one of my first films at the festival was a pretty strange film itself. First and foremost is the fact that Matt Damon almost disappears into the role of Mark Whitacre as a bio-chemist at a middle-American corn producer known as ADM.

There are a number of actors who can’t really move beyond their fame. Actors like George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Robert DeNiro and Woody Harrelson are the kind of actors who I can only ever see as the actors they are and not the roles that they play. There are exceptions to that rule, for instance, Woody Harrelson in ‘Defendor’, Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden in ‘Fight Club’, and George Clooney as Everett McGill in ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ Matt Damon on the other hand can sometimes be a bit of a wild card in the roles that he takes. Roles like ‘Dogma’ or ‘Ocean’s 11’, while incredible, are roles in which he seems to have been cast for the fact of his status as an actor whereas a role like Jason Bourne or Will Hunting, he finds a way to disappear into the role he is playing and you almost forget who he is.

I would put ‘The informant’ in the category of one where he disappears, the subtle way in which he portrays a nervous yet simple man who believes in doing the right thing despite his co-workers views of things and business practices is nothing short of brilliant. But the portrayal is not the only good thing about the film. As the story progresses, you start to realize that things are not entirely what they seem in the world Mark Whitacre inhabits. This begins a series of twists and turns to the plot that would normally be seen in a crime drama or a political thriller but feels right at home in this rather strange and quiet comedy.

Perhaps it’s the fact that so many of the characters seem genuine and honest in the way they deal with the situation at hand, the question of price fixing in the international markets of corn, that makes some of the eventual betrayals so damning and difficult to watch yet so very funny at the same time. The film ultimately becomes one in which there is no clear bad guy in all of it. Not because people haven’t done something wrong, but because you end up caring about the characters despite what they’ve done. None of the characters really seem underhanded or angry in what they do. Perhaps that’s why when things start to go wrong you don’t really see it coming.

So much about this movie is understated and unexpected. From the acting to the camera work and the storytelling, which I think is what makes it work so well. This isn’t a movie about clear lines between right and wrong, or good versus bad. It’s about people, and the way in which people go wrong in their pursuit of success.

Would you hire The Informant? I probably wouldn’t, but I would definitely hire the people who made the film.

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