Steven Soderbergh has had one of the most unique Hollywood directorial careers in recent memory.
He began with the indie art house hit Sex, Lies, and Videotape, and ever since, has been as comfortable with mainstream efforts like the Ocean’s Eleven trilogy as he has at crafting more experimental works such as last spring’s The Girlfriend Experience.
His latest effort The Informant! reconciles these two distinct styles of filmmaking, combining a difficult true story about the corrupt corporate whistleblower Marl Whitacre with a goofy comedic tone and a lead role for superstar Matt Damon.
It’s a very strange but fascinating little movie that could only have come from the mind of Soderbergh.
The Informant! marks the forth collaboration between Steven Soderbergh and Matt Damon and it’s unlikely to be their last.
“It’s no different then when you’re in your actual life and you meet people who are like minded and become friends. When you meet someone in a work situation who you feel has a very similar ethos, then you sort of gravitate towards them and you want to repeat that experience because it makes the work so much more fun,” Soderbergh told Metro while visiting Toronto for TIFF.
It’s lucky that Soderbergh has an ongoing relationship with a performer as talented as Damon, because it’s difficult to imagine many actors who could play the complicated character of Mark Whitacre, who was caught embezzling money from his own company while also exposing their corporate fraud to the FBI.
“I’m becoming more and more convinced that a good movie idea is actually routed more in a good character than a subject,” noted Soderbergh, claiming that he was never particularly interested in creating a corporate satire and saw the movie as a character piece.
“My sense was he would be this guy whether he was working for ADM or not. That’s sort of what I liked about the script,” he said.
“Unlike most films where you have external forces acting upon your protagonist, the external forces acting up the protagonist here were all generated by the protagonist. So it was really fascinating situation. He’s the good guy and the bad guy at the same time.”
As if the psychology of his main character weren’t challenging enough, the director also shot his ’90s-set movie in the style of a ’60s comedy. Soderbergh said this was done primarily out of cinematic nostalgia.
“I’m always pretending that I’m in the ’60s and ’70s,” he says, “because it’s just sort of a Jedi mind trick to make myself think that I’m making movies in that golden period of American film.”
• The Informant! opens in theatres tomorrow.
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