333) The Informant! (2009) Dir: Steven Soderbergh Date Released: September 2009 Date Seen: October 10, 2009 Rating: 3.75/5
Whenever Steven Soderbergh takes it upon himself to make a movie that make points, he proves why he's one of the few American directors capable of delivering smart but overdone socially conscious dramas. The Informant! tells the true story of white-collar criminal turned FBI informer Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon) like it were a cynical Blake Edwards-style comedy sucked dry of Edwards' signature ebullience. Soderbergh insists that we know just how deranged Whitacre, a manic-depressive, bipolar, pathological liar, is from the start, digging up Marvin Hamlisch to provide a Bananas-esque soundtrack and having Damon provide stream-of-conscious voiceover narration that's just a smidge more grounded than the kind the unreliable protagonist of The Face of Another provides. These two overloaded, telltale signs of Soderbergh's wryly zany approach to his material are significantly dialed downed in the second half. Then, Soderbergh finally trusts the material to go far enough off the rails on its own steam. And yet, he plays the heavy-handed cynic so well that the film never feels so off-center for that that complaint became more than just a persistent, though mild, reprimand. Likewise, making Whitacre look like a half-cocked mental patient isn't the hardest task and Damon makes mince meat out of the role. Still, sometimes, it'd be nice to see what the character and the movie might've been like without Soderbergh's voice intruding as loudly as it does here. I guess that's what This American Life is for, huh?