The Informant!

Rated 4.0

This is a whistleblower story (based on the real-life case of executive/biochemist Mark Whitacre and the Archer Daniels Midland company) in which the key figure (played by a pudgy and cheerfully uncool Matt Damon) proves both extraordinarily cooperative and extravagantly unreliable. Whitacre’s enigmatic blend of heroic earnestness and baffling self-delusion is the real subject of Steven Soderbergh’s film—and its best reason for telling his story in a manner that swivels back and forth between gloomy farce and dead-pan social document. The bizarre and ironic outcomes of Whitacre’s actions provide emphatic punctuation to an emerging picture not just of Whitacre himself but also of a corporate culture in which even the best of intentions are undermined by contradictions and deceptions from within. Damon’s performance as a quixotic crusader and middle-American dupe is quietly and amusingly persuasive throughout. The unusual angle of approach is both a problem and a point of real interest, but playing along with this movie’s oddball games can get you to a more illuminating place than most of us could have expected in advance. Feather River Cinemas, Paradise Cinema 7 and Tinseltown. Rated R