The Informant is based on the true story of a biochemist who became an informant. It?s sordid story about price-fixing, embezzlement, cheating and a specious corporate culture that directly impacts American lives.
As a character says: everyone in this country is a victim of corporate crime by the time they?ve finished breakfast. But Soderbergh has mined this material and incredibly enough, created a crackling comedy.
The director gives us enough hints that his take on this story is going to be delightfully skewed. For one the title has an exclamation mark at the end of it.
The film has an exuberant, happy soundtrack and it begins with a note that reads: While the motion picture is based on real events, certain incidents and characters are composites and dialogue has been dramatized.
So there. What follows is a tale so bizarre and twisted that you couldn?t make it up.
Mark Whiteacre, played by Matt Damon, is a rising star at a company called Archer Daniels Midland. The name means nothing but ADM products, ingredients with names like sorbitol and lecithin, can be found on the labels of most foods.
Whiteacre is the youngest division President, earning enough money to live the American Dream with a fleet of cars and a spacious house.
But starting in the early 1990s, Whiteacare turned into an FBI informant, supplying hundreds of tapes that implicated ADM in a price-fixing scheme.
Of course nothing, with Whiteacare was what it seemed. Calling himself 0014, because he?s twice as smart as 007, Whiteacare soon became the informant from hell.
Soderbergh tells Whiteacare?s story in elegant, minimalist frames. The film never engages you emotionally.
But it provokes a laughter that catches in your throat because the sub-text is so cynical and sad.
The Informant is propelled Scott Z. Burns? screenplay, which includes a long-running monologue by Whiteacare, on items as varied as used girl panties on sale in Japan and polar bears. But its biggest strength is Damon?s performance.
The A-list star, wearing a ridiculous hair-piece and 30 pounds overweight, transforms himself into a brilliant character actor.
He is ferociously funny and yet, always, tragic. The Informant isn?t a Soderbergh classic. But there is enough juice and fun here to make it a worthy watch. I recommend that you catch it.