The Informant * * *

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Director: Steven Soderbergh.
Screenplay: Scott Z. Burns.
Starring: Matt Damon, Scott Bakula, Thomas F. Wilson, Melanie Lynskey, Clancy Brown, Larry Clarke, Frank Welker.

Following the epic, political biopic “Che”, director Steven Soderbergh takes on another biopic, resulting in a strange little project for him and star Matt Damon.

Based on the real life events of Mark Whitacre (Damon), in the early 1990’s, who was the vice-president of agri-chemical firm ‘ADM’. Suffering from Bi-polar disorder and being highly convincing in his storytelling, he liaises with the FBI to root out a possible industrial spy in his workplace and then reveals that his employers are involved in a price-fixing cartel. The FBI take a massive interest and have Mark gathering evidence and wearing wires to bring his employers down. The problem is though, is that Whitacre also seems to be a compulsive liar and gradually reveals his own involvement in the embezzlement schemes.

A bizarre change of pace for Soderbergh and very unlike anything he has done before. As much as it was a fine attempt, I wasnt entirely convinced. I didn’t feel that the tone was right. I could see that Soderbergh was going for the absurdity in the situation but it could maybe have been a better film, had he played it straight and decided on some tension. However, given the facts, this story may have been difficult to take seriously. The whole film has the look of a comedy but with very few laughs. The overuse of dramatic music at sporadic moments is off-putting and after the first couple of times, with the novelty wearing off, it becomes intrusive and unnecessary. Damon is perfectly cast-against-type in the role of Whitacre, complete with dodgy ‘tache and hair-do. Despite being quite irritating, he’s highly entertaining and his recurrent voice-over throughout, is both humorous and informative. It’s a performance that’s worthy of attention and kept my interest until the end, which did seem a liitle far off at times.

Although interesting, it’s not an entirely succesful change of direction for Soderbergh, but it’s a terrific turn from Damon.

Mark Walker

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