Tuesday, September 15, 2009

TIFF 2009: The Informant!

Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre

The Informant! directed by Steven Soderbergh (U.S., 2009) 108 minutes at the Ryerson Theatre

Love Damon, love Soderbergh, but I did not love this film. I know I was meant to laugh, to find Damon's performance as the double dealing president of Archers Daniel Midland Bioproducts Division comical but barely a titter passed my lips the whole time. It's a compelling story based on true events but it left me cold.

Matt Damon, deliberately looking puffy and porcine for the role, plays real life Mark Whitacre, a former ADM senior executive, a whistle blower, who exposed the company's price fixing practices in the corn processing business, and collusion with other international companies in the early and mid 90s as well as collecting close to $10 million in kickbacks from ADM related companies.

He logged hundreds of hours of secret audio tapes between the company's executives and other corporations, spoke indiscriminately to almost everyone about what he was doing with the FBI as an informant and somehow expected when the dust cleared that he would become president of the company because everyone else would be in jail.

Whitacre was possibly bi-polar but most certainly a compulsive liar, a cheat, a fraud and a number of other things (including delusional). In the end he was sentenced to ten years in a federal prison camp (served eight and a half years for good behavior) and was released in 2006 while more senior ADM officials served three years for robbing the American consumer of hundreds of millions of dollars. What sort of twisted logic is that?

A good story that merits a second look ... am I suffering festival fatigue? Even Damon couldn't tempt me to like it.

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