Burn After Reading Reviews
Reading the plot-line is one thing, but watching 90 minutes of a lost disk is something else. There is so much intertwining going on, it is surprising how this film never gets as confusing as it sounds. Head-scratching perhaps, but not confusing.
The banter from the characters is highly entertaining. In fact, this is one of the areas where this picture excels. The constant barrage of the F word is worth the price of admission.
There are a number of noticeable faces. John Malkovich and Brad Pitt get a lot of points for their characters. J.K. Simmons makes the most of his minutes as well.
Burn After Reading is an example of a recommendable comedic drama. "Report back to me when it makes sense."
Saw it one more time, Great movie! An Intelligent. Quirky, Surreal Delight. The Coen Brother's did it again with great Direction. This was a very wicked movie with great talented actors. The plot is just so very good and very funny. Brad Pitt made me laugh so much and all the characters are so very interesting. Love it!
Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich) is a CIA analyst who is fired from his job at the agency ostensibly because of his drinking problem. He tells his wife he quit and wants to write a memoir about his life in the CIA. His wife, Katie Cox (Tilda Swinton), wants to divorce Osbourne and, at the counsel of her divorce lawyer, she copies many of his personal and financial files off his computer and onto a CD. Katie happens to be having an affair with US Marshall/Treasury agent Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney). The CD is found at Hardbodies, a workout gym. An employee of the gym, Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt) obtains the disc from the gym's custodian and believes that it contains classified government information. Along with his fellow employee Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand), they intend to use the disk to blackmail Osbourne - Linda needs the money to pay for cosmetic surgery. They call up Cox in the middle of the night, but he is not receptive. Frustrated in Cox' manner, Linda decides to take the information to the Russian embassy. At the embassy, she hands the disk over to the Russians, promising that she will give more information afterwards. Because Linda and Chad don't have any more information, they decide to break into Cox's house.
Harry Pfarrer, while married to a children's book writer, is a playboy dating many women from the Internet. By chance he hooks up with Linda, also an Internet dater, and they begin seeing each other. Harry is proud to show off a homemade device he saw pictured in a "gentleman's magazine". Harry has also noticed someone seems to be following him as there is always a dark car close by.
Meanwhile, Osbourne returns to his home only to find himself locked out because Katie changed the locks and transferred all the bank accounts in a final move in her secret divorce proceedings. He sleeps overnight in his sailboat.
Chad stakes out the Cox's house and breaks in after Harry and Katie leave after a daytime tryst. Harry, returns after a jog, accidentally finds Chad in a closet, and suddenly shoots him in the face. Harry, thinking that Chad was a spy, disposes of the body. Days later, his paranoia increasing after murdering Chad, Harry leaves the Cox residence after a fight with Katie. On his way he manages to tackle the man who has been trailing him for some time. Harry finds out that the man is working for a law firm hired by his wife who, it is later revealed, also has been cheating on him.
The next morning, Harry and Linda meet in a park. Linda mentions her friend Chad has been missing. When Harry realizes that Chad was the guy he shot at the Cox's, he becomes paranoid and flees in terror.
LInda's manager at Hardbodies, Ted Treffon (Richard Jenkins), is sympathetic and agrees to help her get more info from the Cox house for the Russians.
Osbourne, angry and drunk, breaks into his own house with a hatchet. There he finds Ted rifling through his computer. Osbourne shoots and wounds Ted, who stumbles out of the house. Osbourne grabs the hatchet and attacks Ted in broad daylight.
At CIA headquarters, Osbournes former manager (David Rasche) and his Director (J.K. Simmons) try to sort out what happened: Chad is dead, Ted is dead, Osbourne is in a vegetative state and dying after being shot by an agent while attacking Ted, Harry has been arrested trying to board a flight to Venezuela (but the CIA Director suggests letting him go), and Linda has agreed to cooperate in exchange for the CIA financing her plastic surgery. The baffled CIA agents then decide that they have learned their lesson: to never repeat whatever it is that they did in this case; though they are still not clear what it is they did.
In Washington, D.C., the lives of several oddball characters cross paths when CIA analyst Osborne Cox (John Malkovich) quits over a drinking issue and his memoirs unexpectedly falls in to the hands of dumb health club employees Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) and Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt), who decide to try a bit of blackmail to make a coin for themselves. Meanwhile, Cox's wife Katie (Tilda Swinton) is sleeping with horny treasury marshal Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney) who has a secret or two of his own.
What more can you ask for, when the Coens amass a very impressive line-up of top notch actors and mix them up in a bit of espionage, extortion, illicit affairs, online dating and sex toys. They spoil us once again with their ear for side-splitting dialogue and wonderful actors to deliver it, not to mention the often zany, screwball antics of the well drawn characters. There were moments of pants-wetting hilarity in this, to rival some of the best of the Coens' work. The performances are so good from the entire cast that peoples opinions differ greatly as to who was their favourite.
Malkovich is at his maniacal best; Swinton once again nails the cold-hearted bitch routine; McDormand is perfectly goofy and endearing; Pitt is hilarious as a naive camp dope and Clooney once again shows his range with exaggerated expressive features of vulnerability and paranoia. It's hard to pick a favourite but if I had to choose, it'd be the unsung and highly underrated Richard Jenkins. His performance is beautifully nuanced. His character is all about hiding his emotions and Jenkins' subtle expressions are heartbreaking yet hilarious. He's an actor that can do drama and comedy effortlessly and this is another of his consistently excellent deliveries.
The only slight problem I had with the film, was the coherence. I loved every individual scene bit it somehow felt a little disjointed. However, this is a very small gripe from a highly entertaining experience.
The Coens strike comedy gold again, and after the the near mishap of "The Ladykillers" it's good to know that they've still got their funny bone intact. Another strong argument for inventing an Oscar award for best ensemble.