Friday, September 18, 2009
Black Sheep TIFF Review: THE INFORMANT!
Who knew that ratting out your colleagues could be this much fun? Director and one of the few cats out there to earn the title of contemporary auteur, Steven Soderbergh knew, that’s who. And those of us smart enough to catch his latest mainstream offering, THE INFORMANT!, are lucky enough to be let in on the secret too.
When you think of a somewhat sloppy, average guy with a pathetic mustache and a protruding paunch, Matt Damon, the man who would be Bourne, is certainly not the first name that would jump to mind. Playing Mark Whitacre, the high-ranking biochemist turned businessman at Archer Daniels Midland, who decided to blow the whistle on his company’s international involvement in price fixing schemes of the amino acid lysine in the early ‘90’s, does however require a skilled actor with a charm that audiences can relate to and Damon might jump to mind for that one. So Damon packed on a few pounds and turned Mark Whitacre into a neurotic, paranoid over-thinker that the audience will love but never know whether to trust or not. Damon not only pulls off the demands of the character with seeming ease but he somehow manages to pull off the belly too.
I love Soderbergh when he’s being serious but I also love watching him let his hair down, that is, if the man had hair. He keeps THE INFORMANT! light in tone with a whimsical Marvin Hamlisch score and easy to admire with his own uncredited cinematography, that is smooth in movement but tinted yellow for a more nervous, uncertain effect. If you listen closely, you can almost hear him laughing in the background at how ridiculous all the people involved in this embellished true story were and how absurd the whole thing played out. Thanks for informing us, Steven.