Typically, when you hear about movies premiering at Sundance, it’s because the film in question was well received. Not so for Gregor Jordan’s “The Informers,” which was torn to pieces by online critics, many of whom went on to describe the film as one of the worst they’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t go that far, because while the movie may not exactly be good, there are quite a few noteworthy performances hidden within it. Based on a collection of short stories by Bret Easton Ellis, “The Informers” takes place in 1983 Los Angeles and follows a series of intertwining narratives about a drug-dealing college man (Jon Foster) who’s worried that his girlfriend (Amber Heard) is screwing his best friend (Austin Nichols); a big-time movie producer (Billy Bob Thornton) forced to choose between his ex-wife (Kim Basinger) and former fling (Winona Ryder); a neurotic loser (Brad Renfro) who receives an unwelcome visitor (Mickey Rourke); and an international rock star (Mel Raido) suffering yet another major meltdown.
Unfortunately, my favorite story in the book – one involving a vampire named Jamie – has been axed from the movie, and along with it, the satirical bite (no pun intended) that Ellis is famous for. Instead, Jordan plays the whole thing serious, and though it doesn’t really change the outcome of the stories, it does change the tone. The characters are essentially the same, however, and in some cases, are even given more depth thanks to the actors playing them. Foster, Nichols and Lou Taylor Pucci are all solid as the film’s emotionally detached hipsters (an Ellis trademark), while Brad Renfro turns in a great performance in his final role. It’s not enough to convince non-Ellis fans to see the film, but if nothing else, it’s a good excuse to check out Amber Heard in all her naked glory.