Los Angeles. Early ’80s. Vacuous, rich and pretty blond boys and girls get drunk, get high and get laid; a few come to a vague realization that their lives are, um, vacuous. Such is the essence of The Informers, and if it sounds anything like Less Than Zero, well, both were based on books by Bret Easton Ellis.
Ellis has made a career out of chronicling the glitzy dark side of the young and privileged class, but The Informers, based on a series of Ellis short stories, is a listless and lifeless mess of shifting storylines. There are some solid names in the cast, including Mickey Rourke, Billy Bob Thornton and Rhys Ifans, but no one really gets out of this unscathed. The film might have had a chance if it had focused on the tattered relationship between a rich movie producer (Thornton) and his wife (Basinger); the movie briefly comes alive when Basinger confronts Thornton about the woman he’s sleeping with (a hapless Winona Ryder). But for the most part these characters get lost in the narrative shuffle, which also includes Chris Isaak trying to reconnect with his pretty, rich, vacuous son on a trip to Hawaii and a ridiculous subplot with Rourke as some kind of child kidnapper.
Reportedly, Ellis and several of the actors have tried to disown the project; Ellis and co-screenwriter Nicholas Jarecki had envisioned a more lighthearted, satiric take, until director Gregor Jordan retooled the film. The original story called for vampires. I’m not sure bloodsuckers would have helped.