Burn After Reading
George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich
Tilda Swinton, Brad Pitt
Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
Universal / Spotlight Pictures 2008
Movies do not come any weirder than what the Coen Brothers dream up. This is also the case for Burn After Reading, a spy style thriller DVD where paranoia rules along with the Coen brothers’ signature dark comedy. If you enjoy thrillers, the many references to recent movies will not go unnoticed.
Burn After Reading is one of those DVDs you either absolutely love, buy, and watch again and again or a movie you will dismiss pretty early on. It requires some degree of patience while the convoluted plot and complicated characters are set up for the big pay off at the end. The movie features Coen brothers veterans Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins, and George Clooney as well as Brad Pitt and John Malkovich in the kind of role no actor can turn down.
Malkovich plays CIA desk man Osborne Cox. Cox quits his job and decides to write his memoirs. His wife (played by Tilda Swinton) who is cheating on him with George Clooney, makes a copy of his memoirs thinking she can use the information in a divorce suit. The disc falls in the hands of a gym musclehead (Brad Pitt) and manager (McDormand) who believe they can blackmail Cox for some money.
It gets a little bizarre and then a lot more bizarre after that as the connections between the characters become more intimate and personal.
If you enjoy complex thrillers or if you find complex thrillers a chore, Burn After Reading will certainly entertain and make you laugh as it pokes caustic fun at the genre.
The DVD also features Coen brothers signatures such as the odd bit of comic yet bloody violence that comes out of nowhere, strange characters with odd motivations, and some really dark comedy, this time at the expense of the genre it is impersonating.