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The Informant - DVD Review


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</script></div>{/googleAds}"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive." Sir Walter Scott

Okay, let's see what we have here: deception, corporate greed, embezzlement, fraud, wire-tapping, voice recorders, lies, more deception, a â"spy" who calls himself double-0 14 because he's â"twice as smart as 007", and mental illness. Oh, and corn, lots and lots of corn. Left in the hands of a lesser talent, the ingredients in The Informant! could have produced a disaster, but with Steven Soderbergh at the helm the movie's tricky recipe produces a memorable five-star dinner; an experience you'll want to revisit as soon as the last morsel is washed away by a tall glass of water.

The InformantMatt Damon, doing at times a comical cross-between William H. Macy and Ned Flanders from The Simpsons, plays Mark Whitacre, a well-off complex â"little fella" without the mental capital for self-preservation, who decides to run errands for the FBI in the face of a backfired lie - and turn whistle-blower for a Agricultural corporation as it attempts (or does it?) to price-fix their product. Set in the 1980's, the tone of the film is established in the first scene as Damon waxes poetic about corn with his son. That's right... corn. This sweaty nail-biting whistle-blower tale is a comedy? Indeed, it is. (Please note the exclamation point at the end of the film's title - it's a dead giveaway.) While the massive character study of Whitacre is intense at times, Damon's running narration on all things pop trivia when the pressure rises, Soderbergh's artistic quirk-like direction, and Marvin Hamlisch's lively score (yes, that Marvin Hamlisch) turns this movie into a monster tour-de-farce.

Spurred by his wife Ginger (Melanie Lynskey) to always tell the truth, Damon's Whitacre turns every opportunity at truth-telling into a massive web of fanciful lies that hooks the bosses at his work, agents Shepard (Scott Bakula) and Herndon (Joel McHale) at the FBI, and even his lawyer (Tony Hale). All are confused by his earnestness and engaged by his â"honesty" in the face of his own extinction at work a fact that humorously escapes Whitacre even to the last. It seems, tipped off by Damon's humorous narration, that only the audience knows he is lying and that makes the situation all the more comical. Assisting in the comic-inspired madness of his antics are cameos from Tom Papa, Thomas Wilson, Scott Adsit, Ann Cusack, and... (wait for it)... The Smothers Brothers.

Using low and natural lighting throughout the film with his HD camera, Soderbergh (again acting as his own cinematographer) somehow captures a film quality reminiscent of John Landis' work in the early 1980's. There is a wash of warm light in the coldest of rooms followed by the cleanest of cuts all adding up to a subtlety the antics of the film jettison an effect that works nicely. While Soderbergh and Damon working together again is reason to celebrate the film's release, true film fans will be absolutely enthused by the Hamlisch's score as rich in jazz as it is in character; a character so strong it will surely draw comparisons to his work in The Sting.

These elements add up to an inspired movie, a movie whose comic tone is never in doubt - despite what some early critics are already accusing the film of being: confusing. Whitacre is an honest-to-god natural liar and a cheat a tough sell for audiences to connect with as a main character but, under the stylishly clever direction of Soderbergh, Damon's character finds an audience that accepts him because of his lies and, in a twist of morality, wants the best for this ornery little weasel... even if the best thing means for his lying to continue.


Component Grades
Movie
DVD
5 Stars
2 stars
DVD Experience
3.5 stars

DVD

DVD Details:

Available on: February 23, 2010
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English; French; Spanish
Audio:
English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo; English: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1

Supplements:

Deleted Scenes

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