Published Sep 17, 2009Who knew that ratting out your colleagues could be this much fun? Director Steven Soderbergh (one of the few cats out there to earn the title of "contemporary auteur") knew, that's who. And those of us smart enough to catch his latest mainstream offering, The Informant!, are lucky enough to be let in on the secret.
When you think of a somewhat sloppy, average guy with a pathetic moustache and a protruding paunch, Matt Damon, the man who would be Bourne, is certainly not the first name that comes to mind. Playing Mark Whitacre, a high-ranking biochemist turned businessman at Archer Daniels Midland who decides to blow the whistle on his company's international involvement in price-fixing schemes of the amino acid lysine in the early '90s, does require a skilled actor, with charm, that audiences can relate to. And Damon might come to mind for that.
So, Damon packed on a few pounds and turned Mark Whitacre into a neurotic, paranoid over-thinker that the audience will love but never know whether to trust or not. Damon not only pulls off the demands of the character with ease but somehow manages to pull off the belly as well.
I love Soderbergh when he's being serious but I also love watching him let his hair down, that is, if the man had hair. He keeps The Informant! light in tone, with a whimsical Marvin Hamlisch score, and his easy to admire, un-credited cinematography, which is smooth in movement but tinted yellow for a more nervous, uncertain effect.
If you listen closely, you can almost hear him laughing in the background at how ridiculous all the people involved in this embellished true story are and how absurd the whole thing is. Thanks for informing us, Steven. (Warner)