The latest film from the marvellous Coen brothers is another of their darker than dark comedies, a tale of dorky folk who all get caught up in a stupidly bizarrely circular chain of events . Burn After Reading has very few laugh out loud moments, but there are plenty of corner of the mouth secret chuckles to be had. It’s sweary and gets increasingly mad and violent, but deep down you sort of know that all these characters had it coming to them all along!
It has an all-star cast too… John Malkovich is superb as the sacked CIA analyst Osborne Cox, who descends into drunken rage, George Clooney plays yet another Coen dork as the paranoid womanising Treasury agent Harry Pfarrer, having an affair with Malkovich’s wife, who is a real bitch played to perfection by Tilda Swinton. Then Frances McDormand is Linda, the singleton internet dater convinced that plastic surgery is the answer to her prayers, Brad Pitt does the comic turn as the really stupid gym instructor Chad, and Richard Jenkins is the gym manager who thinks Linda’s fine as she is.
When a cd of CIA information appearing to belong to Osborne is left at the gym, Chad and Linda see it as a way to make some reward money, and ring Osborne who knows nothing about it. This starts off a chain of events that quickly spirals out of control as all these characters are linked by circumstances. I won’t say more as it would spoil your enjoyment.
The reviews have been rather mixed. Many people don’t like the ending in particular – I did. I found it clever and full of irony and thoroughly enjoyed the movie.