Another Coen bros. tragicomedy. I love the emptiness they leave you with in their films. A lot of good actors appear, some being those who have not previously been in a Coen bros. film (including David Rasche!). Definitively not as good as Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Crimewave, Raising Arizona, or The Hudsucker Proxy, but worth a watch to see Brad Pitt acting so goofy and the present George Clooney builds for his wife.
Steven Stewart | Liverpool | 11/01/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After the true genius of No Country For Old Men, the Coen Brothers come back with a whole new dimension. Burn After Reading is a dark comedy about idiots faced with an intelligent and complex situation. Two Gym instructors Linda Litsky (Frances McDormand) and Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt) find a disc containing the memoirs of ex CIA agent Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich). They, being idiots think it's a disc containing top secret information and try to bribe Osbourne for money which would help pay for Linda's cosmetic surgery. Things don't go to plan as Osbourne has bigger things on his mind, his wife Katie (Tilda Swinton) is having an affair with the paranoid Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney).
This film is actually quite intelligent in its own right, the characters seem well defined and are played superbly. The characters were specifically written for the actor playing them and it really shows.
John Malkovich portrays the agent lost of all hope well, you become quite intimidated by both his intelligence and temper.
George Clooney as the paranoid individual who's having more affairs than you can wave a stick at doesn't falter. He's jumpy, but hey who wouldn't be if you were sleeping with three different women. This eratic behaviour becomes a bit tragic and leads to the death of one of the characters in the film.
Brad Pitt as the loveable and wannabe cunning idiot is fantastic, the facial expressions and general stereotypical dexterity of what we would expect a personal trainer to be really works. This becomes especially amusing when he enters into the bribing game with Malkovich and starts to enter into the character of cunning spy. It has to be seen to be believed.
Frances McDormands character is the real shining light of the whole film as she's the catalyst leading up to the films biggest events. She's a middle aged gym instructor paranoid over the look of her body. While trying to get plastic surgery, she's turned down by her insurance company and is the one that convinces Pitts character to bribe Cox. She's a woman on the edge of giving up on life and wants to take one last leap into the chance of a relationship, but is made even more nervous by her own body insecurities.
The Coens once again create a film that is both surreal and believable, the characters are shockingly brilliant. The scenario is a bit over the top but comes together perfectly. There is something that bothered me, however, and that's the fact that every character in the film seemed to be having an affair with someone else. I don't know, maybe that was the whole point that made the film work. For fans of the Coens this is definitely one that sits proudly in their film catalogue next to such greats as No Country For Old Men and The Big Lebowski. I would strongly recommend it to any film fan overall, it's definitely worth it just for the Brad Pitt & Clooney facial expressions. Be warned though as if you're easily offended by swearing, then you might as well take your pad and pen with you to start writing your complaints letter."
Lolling the onestars
Justin A. Atkinson | Chillicothe, OH, USA | 11/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just wanted to point out that every single complaint that the one-star reviews dole out are just icing on the cake as far as me totally loving this movie. The characters had no depth? The plot was too amorphous? THAT WAS THE POINT FOLKS. The characters are examples of typical character flaws that are variations on stupidity. You're supposed to enjoy their lives falling apart. I sure as hell did."
These reviewers are crazy!
Daniel Daley | reno, nv | 01/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am shocked at the amount of negative reviews here. this is a comedic masterpiece. i think the one star ratings are coming from simpletons that have no clue about truly subtle and intelligent humor. THE ABRUPT ENDING WAS PART OF THE POINT!
THE LACK OF A PLOT WAS PART OF THE POINT!
THE POINT OF THE MOVIE WAS HOW TRULY POINTLESS MOST THINGS ARE!
In their brilliance, the coens were MAKING A POINT BY MAKING A MOVIE WITH NO POINT!
This film is true genius and one of the funniest films I have ever seen. Clooney was a perverted mess and Pitt was genius as a mindless but fun good samaritan. If you know anything about comedy, you will love this film."
Six characters in search of a plot
James Seger | The Woodlands, TX United States | 01/25/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Watching Burn After Reading I got the feeling that the Coens were trying to recapture the quirkiness of Raising Arizona, Fargo and The Big Lebowski. Unfortunately the oddness of those films flowed naturally from the story and the characters were believable in the worlds they were given. In this one it all felt forced.
John Malkovich, George Clooney and Brad Pitt excellently chewed the scenery in their parts, but the movie seemed to lack a central, believable theme to bring the bits together. As it was, it felt like the Coens had some ideas for some wacky characters and tried to come up with a reason to plop them all together in a film. After finishing this, I'd be hard pressed to explain it to someone who hadn't already seen it.
For me at least, this was a funny enough time waster, but not much else. I can't imagine being at a get together with a group of friends and quoting Burn After Reading a year from now."
Mildly Entertaining, Frustrating and Diffuse Rediculum
Jaredin Pon | United States | 05/10/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This movie depicts stupid people in stupid situations woven from their own misunderstood and terrible nature. I found this movie to be mildly entertaining as it follows multiple character plots that are strange enough to grab your attention, yet in the end squander it on dragged out scenes and lack of full development. The stupidity of some of the characters makes you hate them and others are made lovable. Bits and pieces of it were social commentary on every day pieces of life, yet when the pieces were put together, the picture wasn't quite on. It was a fair attempt at making a bizarre comedy with hints of social commentary in it, but lacked in momentum and delivery to fully win it.
BOTTOM LINE: I don't recommend buying this movie, but perhaps maybe a RedBox.
NOTE: If strong language bothers you, reconsider watching this one. "