The Informant (April 18, 2014)
Like the Wolf of Wall Street, The Informant is based on the autobiographical memoir (L’Aviseur’) of an unreliable narrator whose desire for a yacht landed him in prison.
In The Informant, real life informant Mark Fievet is renamed Marc Duval and played by the popular French actor (Little White Lies, Tell No One, Point Blank).
Directing from a script by double César Award winning writer Abdel Raouf Dafri (A Prophet and Mesrine) Julien Leclercq (The Assault) cannot sustain the tension and focus of the first half of his espionage thriller. Just when the plot thickens at the half way mark, we lose interest in Duval and in his story.
With a beautiful wife (Raphaelle Agogue) and little baby, a bar/restaurant in Gibraltar and a beautiful sail boat in the harbour, Marc Duval seems to have it all.
But he is living way beyond his means and cannot pay the finance on the yacht or obtain a loan. The bar is a sleazy, gloomy joint where his clientele discuss drug deals over the billiard table.
This fact is not unknown to French Customs Agent Redjani Belimane (Tahar Rahim, The Past, A Prophet) who offers Duval large sums of money in exchange for information leading to a conviction.
Duval is reluctant at first, but soon, not even the danger to his family can stop him. Duval takes to the murky life of risk and intrigue like a fish to water and, with his honest, working class face, and intelligence, is soon in demand by customs officials and drug smugglers alike.
Greed prompts Duval to get mixed up in a deal involving British customs and Claudio Pasco Lanfredi (Riccardo Scamarclo), a handsome, deceptively charming murderer who seduces Duval’s unstable sister (Melanie Bernier) with his wealth, good looks and flashy wardrobe.
Although the film suggests that Duval was betrayed and underpaid by French Customs, we seems to have acted on his own in accepting the British deal and only afterwards involved the French.
Leclercq leaves us languishing too long in the nondescript meeting rooms of senior customs officials where we witness their cynical discussions about how to extract themselves from potentially embarrassing situations.
This usually involves sacrificing a punter and you can see Duval’s downward spiral coming a mile a way.
When Duval moves his family into Claudio’s villa, presumably to win Claudio’s confidence and get away from his bar, the film feels like a hackneyed gangster movie with a decidedly familiar feel to it.
Only Claudio Lanfredi’s character is sharply defined and he is somewhat of a cliché. It is difficult to tell whether Rahim’s Belimane is an agent lacking in the authority to fulfil his well-intentioned promises, or a double crosser with an innocent face, well-versed in the blame game.
Perhaps the moral of the story is not that crime never pays, but that the filmmakers have failed to find the drama in the memoir.
Rather than leading to a nail-biting climax, the film drifts and Duval becomes as unsympathetic as those who facilitate his downfall.
by Joyce Glasser, Mature Times film reviewer