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American Psychos

The Informers takes on the self-indulgent '80s

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Set in Los Angeles in the early '80s, The Informers might as well have been made in the '80's. And no, that's not a compliment. Based on a Bret Easton Ellis novel, Gregor Jordan's film opens with a shot of yuppies doing what everyone in L.A. supposedly did in the early '80s: listen to Simple Minds, snort coke, and party by the pool. Things take a tragic turn, however, when a car crash kills a young could-be-a-Calvin Klein-model guy.

The narrative, however, doesn't focus on the dead guy at the party. Instead, it follows several different storylines. There's Bryan Metro (Mel Raido), the rock star who sleeps with underage girls and has a drinking problem. There's Les (Chris Isaak) and his son Tim (Lou Taylor Pucci) who are vacationing in Hawaii in an attempt to get away from the craziness of L.A. And there's the bellboy (Brad Renfro) whose troublemaking friend (Mickey Rourke) just won't leave him alone.

If there's a center to the film, it's the relationship between William (Billy Bob Thornton) and his wife Laura (Kim Basinger). An estranged couple who keep trying to reconnect with their fucked-up kids, William and Laura have more problems than their delinquent offspring. Laura is screwing some guy half her age, and William, a movie exec, just can't get over an attractive news anchor (Winona Ryder).

What any of this means isn't clear. Sure, everyone in The Informers is a narcissist in some way, and the movie is ostensibly a critique of the overindulgent '80s, particularly as they played out in L.A. But it's not like it's telling us something we didn't already know. After making such an impressive comeback in The Wrestler, Rourke must be kicking himself for signing on to a role in such an inconsequential film.

jniesel@clevescene.com

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