Burn After Reading
- Director:Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
- Cast:George Clooney, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, Tilda Swinton
- Release Date:October 16, 2008
- Running time:96 minutes
- Film Worth:$15.00
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
In Burn After Reading, no one really knows anything. And what they do know isn't very important to anyone but themselves. Everyone lives in their own little bubble of obsession and confusion. Harry (George Clooney) is a gabby federal marshal with a lot of time for wooden floor finishings. He likes laying married women who he meets through internet dating websites. One such conquest is Linda (Frances McDormand), a jittery instructor at Hardbodies Gym who convinces herself that costly cosmetic medical procedures will make her more desirable. Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich) is a CIA spook who gets kicked downstairs because of a drinking problem. He starts to write a tell-all memoir, but doesn't get very far, because, you know, he drinks. He hardly pays attention to the fact that his acidic pediatrician wife Katie (Tilda Swinton) - who likes to brow-beat four-year-olds - is having an affair with Harry. There's also Chad (Brad Pitt), a fitness nut and Linda's best pal at Hardbodies, who doesn't stop bopping and can't live without his bike or iPod. When a CD of incomprehensible "CIA type shit" turns up on a change room floor at Hardbodies, Chad and Linda see it as a fast track to riches and certainly better buttocks. They try blackmailing Cox.
The Coens' sense of the absurd abounds here, and sometimes it's endearingly silly in its send up of spy movies - as when Chad arrives to a clandestine meeting via bicycle!
Short, brisk and spiked with their trademark brilliant dialogue, Burn After Reading lets the audience in on the joke early, since the action begins and ends in the halls of "power", namely CIA headquarters. The trouble is, to these "security" guys, charged with protecting society, nothing makes sense and dead bodies are an inconvenience. That sort of gasp-inducing pragmatism is shocking. The disturbing thing is, that kind of black comedy has the heart-numbing echo of truth about it. Burn After Reading isn't "cold" or distant - it's a game, and a good one at that. The Coens' "heart" is in the fact that they invite us in to play along.