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Burn After Reading
Burn After Reading
Actors: Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand, George Clooney, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton
Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
R     2008     1hr 36min

Gym employees accidentally get disc full of CIA secrets.

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Movie Details

Actors: Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand, George Clooney, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton
Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Creators: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, David Diliberto, Eric Fellner
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Coen Brothers, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Universal Studios
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 12/21/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/2008
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 36min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 21
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, French, French
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
See Also:

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Member Movie Reviews

Sharon R. (sharon)
Reviewed on 2/27/2016...
First you MUST like black humor, is the film funny? To me YES. The entire plot started with one woman's obsession with finding a way to have plastic surgery which spurned a series of events involving other characters. It was sort of a spy spoof meets ridiculously absurd people.

If you like British humor, like black humor and really will like this film. I even liked Brad Pitt in this and quite frankly could do without ever seeing any of his movies.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Deborah M. from IRMO, SC
Reviewed on 3/13/2013...
No, you were not the only one who could not follow the quirkiness of a going-nowhere plot, and I am a far-from stupid person. Thought it would have been great with the cast, but what a disappointment.
4 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Dee D. (deedress) from DULUTH, MN
Reviewed on 11/15/2011...
wonderful quirky characters that catch you off guard as soon as your think you have them figured out. Very well done by a stellar group of actors.
3 of 6 member(s) found this review helpful.
Barb S. (Warpony) from MAGDALENA, NM
Reviewed on 7/15/2011...
Very good performances by all the actors. Not the best Coen Brothers film, but as with most of their work entertaining and with unexpected plot.
3 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Pretty Great
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!



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."