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Burn After Reading September 15, 2008

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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The Coen Brothers’ latest offering is a fun film. Except for the fact that this is the follow-up to an Oscar winning attempt from the directors, this film has a lot going for it.

While the plot is a bit too complex to describe, the characters should give you an idea about this film. Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) is a Hardbodies Gym employee who, in her words, has gone “as far as I can with this body” and wants to renew herself with four different cosmetic surgeries, none of which she actually needs. Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt) plays her enthusiastic colleague who is looking to help her make money for the surgeries when they find a CD with some classified information from an ex-CIA operative. The CIA operative, Osborne Cox (John Malkovich), is a drunk who has been recently fired. His wife, Katie (Tilda Swinton), is sleeping with Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney), who is something of a sex maniac. What follows is a bunch of events with the CIA keeping a close watch.

All the characters in this film have their quirk factor raised up a notch. These aren’t the sort of people you’d meet everyday nor are they the sort that you can like or empathize with. The Coens put them together in some crazy situations, add witty dialogue all around and throw in a couple of shocks to make up this film.

The delightful cast is reason enough to watch this film. Pitt as a fitness instructor is very different from what we’ve seen before. Malkovich (Being John Malkovich, Colour Me Kubrick) repeatedly calls him an idiot and he really makes a good one. McDormand (Fargo) is just wonderful once again in probably the best performance of the film. Clooney is superb as well. J K Simmons (Juno, Spider-Man 3) somehow manages to put a smile on my face even when he isn’t doing much and he gets the two most hilarious scenes in this film. Another amusing cameo comes courtesy of J R Horne, who plays a divorce lawyer.

Burn After Reading is a goofy spy film, sort of, but it isn’t about anything really. It is a dark comedic thriller about a bunch of idiots interlinked in crazy situations culminating in a climax where no one except the audience is really sure what happened. It is quite funny, briskly paced and ends just when you get the feeling that it might start to drag. Don’t expect a masterpiece here but if you are looking to laugh, this film should deliver.