Bret Easton Ellis’ novels translate nicely from page to screen. The author’s obsession with pretty surfaces — from faces to food to designer clothes — is catnip for an industry/art form that thrives on images. Adaptations of Less Than Zero, American Pyscho and The Rules of Attraction all work better than expected in cinematic form, ably capturing Ellis’ investigations of decadence, cultural satire and deadpan emotion to entertaining, sometimes affecting results.
The same can’t quite be said of Gregor Jordan’s adaptation of The Informers, which is based on a collection of loosely connected short stories Ellis wrote during his college days. Yet Jordan does effectively re-create the book’s early-’80s Los Angeles backdrop — one can almost smell the desperation in the air.
Southern California’s decadent underbelly is presented in all its wicked, sun-splashed glory. Toned and tanned bodies engage in meaningless, drug- and alcohol-fueled sex. Sleek hotels are outfitted with period televisions that project everything from then-President Reagan’s latest news of the day to smoke-machine-laden music videos featuring one of the film’s main figures.
The problem with The Informers’ lies with the fact that we don’t care one lick about any of its disaffected characters, most of whom are inhabited by a parade of familiar faces: Billy Bob Thornton, Winona Ryder, Kim Basinger, Lou Taylor Pucci, a largely clothes-less Amber Heard, Brad Renfo, Chris Isaak and, finally, Mickey Rourke, whose presence no doubt led to this thing getting a belated theatrical release (it was likely destined for a straight-to-DVD fate before Rourke’s recent resurrection).
At one point our default protagonist (a vapid, perpetually stoned, impossibly handsome blonde dude played by Jon Foster) describes his life motto: “There is nothing. Just accept it.” The same can be said of the film. Grade: C-
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