The Informant!

Steven Soderbergh's corporate whistleblower oddity, based on true story

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  • Uncut Film Review: THE INFORMANT!
  • DIRECTED BY Steven Soderbergh
  • STARRING Matt Damon, Scott Bakula, Melanie Lynskey

  • It’s the early 90s and affable, pudgy Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon) is a climber at agri-industry giants ADM when suddenly he elects to expose their price-fixing crimes to the FBI. He makes a slightly incompetent spy, wearing a wire, taping meetings. He loves to commentate: even his voiceover likens his actions to “a Grisham novel”. Yet the more Whitacre uncovers for the Feds’ anxious agent (Scott Bakula), the more cans of worms are opened. Our man on the inside, with his vivid imagination, may not be the most reliable of narrators…

    Steven Soderbergh’s in his super-slick mode here: the film’s set in a suited, briefcase-carrying, male culture, although oddly its beige torpor feels more 1950s than 90s. For a purported comedy, laughs are few: indeed its descent into paranoia and deception is distressing. It may have felt like a coup to get The Sting’s Marvin Hamlisch to compose the score, but it’s jarringly jaunty. Only one role is fleshed out, and that’s Damon’s. With walrus ‘tache and a dazzling mix of the naive and the Machiavellian, his is, despite the movie’s lack of flair, one of the year’s stand-out performances.


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