Set in 1980s Gibraltar, Gilles Lellouche plays Marc Duval, a seemingly untroubled owner of a bar, living a secluded existence with his wife Clara (Raphaëlle Agogué) and young child. However his lust for a more affluent lifestyle is put to the test when he’s approached by customs officer Redjani Belimane (Tahar Rahim) to work as an informant, and tell the authorities of any drug smuggling he comes across. As the money starts flowing, Marc becomes obsessed with this vocation, and though his family are put in danger, he’s in far too deep to simply walk away.
There’s an enjoyable, foreboding atmosphere in the early stages of this picture, because Marc is very much going through his “how hard can it be?” phase, with the likes of Redjani assuring him everything will be okay. Yet the audience are sitting there knowing fully well things definitely won’t, because otherwise we wouldn’t have a film to indulge in. It wouldn’t make for much of a thriller if everything went to plan now, would it?
Though there are tense moments, The Informant is never quite suspenseful enough, and perhaps that derives from never feeling fully endeared to our protagonist, and thus not emotionally investing in his journey. It would be beneficial to play on the normal, mundane aspects of Marc’s life a little more substantially in the early stages, to get to know him and his family even more, and further the impact when they fall into hard times. Instead it feels a little rushed, and continues on in much of the same fashion – as we never truly delve into his personal life with enough depth, deviating carelessly away from the more intimate aspects of the narrative, focusing more greatly on the drug deals.
Arguably the most detrimental aspect to this piece, however, is that, despite the credible performance by Lellouche, Marc is not a defined, rounded character. Films that feature money grabbing, flawed protagonists at the heart of them, like The Wolf of Wall Street, for instance, work so much better when you can’t help but root for the lead role, despite any ethical apprehensions. In this instance you just don’t care either way, as when Marc so naively puts his family in severe jeopardy for a bit of money, it’s somewhat difficult to support his cause, and sadly the film suffers as a result.