The Informant! (2009)
Stephen Soderbergh’s comic farce is highly amusing from start to finish. I even watched it twice and still found myself shaking my head and chuckling in bafflement. That’s the best way to describe the tone of the film — baffled laughter. Matt Damon stars as Mark Whitaker, a corporate whistleblower whose grasp on the truth is tenuous at best. Damon’s character is a cut-up and his delusions of being a spy plus his scatter-brained narration are as fascinating as they are hilarious. This guy thinks he’s James Bond. And yet the film, while deeply comic, never comes across as snide or condescending even if most of the laughs come from Whitaker’s disconnect from reality. The film has a deliberately ironic tongue-in-cheek vibe, from the silly yet undeniably jaunty kazoo-aided score by Marvin Hamlisch to even the amber-colored cinematography (like the film was shot through the prism of a honey jar), the movie is an entertaining series of blunders and revelations. Damon is charismatic and deeply funny and Whitaker makes for such an interesting main character exactly because he is so unpredictable and unreliable. He doles out the truth in pieces like a kid caught. The Informant! is light and breezy but with some well-honed psychology of rationalization and self-deception. I don’t know how true this supposed true-life tale really is, but it’s a hell of a fun tale.
Nate’s Grade: B+