Film Capsule: Informant

Post-Katrina-radical-turned-FBI-informant Brandon Darby considers himself a patriot, but he identifies much more as a control junkie. This may have a direct correlation with the fact that Darby held so little sway over his own situation throughout childhood. He grew up a frustrated outsider from Pasadena, Texas – a 13-year old runaway who consequently began leaning toward anarchy.

What’s fascinating about Jamie Meltzer’s Informant is how effective it is at uncovering Darby’s motives. As a young adult, Darby became interested in precisely the type of bombastic – if not violent – activism that would land him in the papers. Following Katrina, he positioned himself right at the center of the media universe. When the buzz surrounding Katrina began to subside, Darby very quietly began to divorce himself, only to reemerge a year or so later, this time to help the FBI infiltrate a nascent cluster of similar activists. Once those activists were apprehended, Darby openly testified against them in court, once again splashing his name across the headlines.

Informant reveals Darby to be an unreliable – albeit captivating – narrator, one who has already renounced his entire ideology more than once. I mean, how can anyone really be expected to rely upon a guy who previously advocated for abolishing federal government, only to subsequently turn tails and become a government informant? The beauty of Meltzer’s film is that it never really forces you to take sides, nor does it deliver any type of overt indictment regarding Brandon Darby’s character. Nonetheless, it does leave you wondering why anyone might ever believe in Brandon Darby’s word again. And it also leaves you wondering whether anyone should really care about a person’s motives, assuming the greater good is being served.

(Informant will open at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center in New York and the Laemmle Noho Theater in Los Angeles on September 13, followed by additional screening dates around the country. As of this Friday, it will always be available via iTunes.)