Mark Whitacre has worked for lysine developing company ADM for many years and has even found his way into upper management. But nothing has prepared him for the job he is about to undertake - being a spy for the FBI. Unwillingly pressured into working as an informant against the illegal price-fixing activities of his company, Whitacre gradually adopts the idea that he's a true secret agent. But as his incessant lies keep piling up, his world begins crashing down around him. Written by
The Massie Twins
This story was the subject of the 9-15-2000 episode (#168) of This American Life entitled "The Fix is In." See more »
In the scene when they supposedly are in Mexico, the pay phone model reveals they are actually at some Aeromexico lounge in the US. See more »
You know that orange juice you have every morning? You know what's in that? Corn. And you know what's in the maple syrup you put on your pancakes? You know what makes it taste so good? Corn. And when you're good and help with the trash, you know what makes the big, green bags biodegradable?
[to his son]
Corn *starch*. But Daddy's company didn't come up with that one. DuPont did.
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Prologue: "While this motion picture is based on real events, certain incidents and characters are composites, and dialog has been dramatized. So there." See more »
I suppose I will always find something to like in a Soderbergh movie. The real joy is in never knowing just what that will be. Even in his most mainstream projects he is exploring some new skill. Here it is the notion of narration.
I'll have to see this a second time with a DVD stop button to be able to fully catalog all the various modes that our filmmaker skips seamlessly through. The main device he weaves these modes around is the spine of the untrusted narrator. We have all sorts of layers and nodes of deception with the only ones we can really trust being the guys usually are the bottom of the garbage bin: the massive greedy company.
We have this fellow being dishonest to everyone, including himself. We have no idea where the line is that he actually believes and we hear only from him. Some of the internal dialog is hypnotizing: we are lulled into accepting it because so much of it is appealingly funny. It is a great trick of misdirection, allowing us to associate with this slippery reality.
Folded into this is are the watchers, nominally the FBI, then various lawyers and the wife, but us of course, punctuated by a video at the end directly to us (with the FBI behind a mirror).
A second surprise awaited me beyond the Soderbergh stretching. Matt Damon finally does something impressive. He is truly something worth watching here. I never would have guessed. I never would have believed. In fact, this wouldn't have worked at all, this suspended belief within the story, if he had not so believably become the character.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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