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Burn After Reading

When a disc containing memoirs of a former CIA analyst (John Malkovich) falls into the hands of Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) and Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt), the two gym employees see a chance to make enough money for her to have life-changing cosmetic surgery. Predictably, events whirl out of control for the duo doofuses and those in their orbit.

George Clooney Harry Pfarrer
Frances McDormand Linda Litzke
John Malkovich Osborne Cox
Tilda Swinton Katie Cox
Brad Pitt Chad Feldheimer
Richard Jenkins Ted
Elizabeth Marvel Sandy Pfarrar
David Rasche CIA Officer
J.K. Simmons CIA Superior
Jeffrey DeMunn Cosmetic Surgeon

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Reviews & Comments
Nov 03, 2008 - vicaya on Burn After Reading
Laughs that burns

Very funny, very dark. The situations are highly improbable. Using a legion of "drama" actors for "comedy" created an interesting comic tension. George Clooney is easily the funniest character in the movie. Kudos for Coen brothers to bring out his funny side. The acting for everybody is spot on, even though many characters are one-dimensional caricatures.

The Russians?

Oct 08, 2008 - jeffkirk1 on Burn After Reading
A decidedly mixed bag

The funny bits were very funny. But there were too few of them. The violent bits were very very violent, which is no surprise, considering that this is a Coen Brothers movie. But the violent bits were intrusive and incongruous and detracted from the goofy fun that makes up the rest of the movie.

I loved George Clooney's comic performance, especially the gradually increasing paranoia as he juggles relationships and has to deal with the consequences of discovering an unexpected visitor in the closet. Brad Pitt was perfect. Every other performance seemed either perfunctory or a sad waste of talent, as in the case of John Malkovich.

I enjoyed it, but I don't feel compelled to see it again. Maybe the darkness of "No Country for Old Men" took the Coens off their stride. Hope they recover soon.

(no rating) Oct 06, 2008 - SOIL on Burn After Reading
Burn BEFORE Watching !

Boring is bad enough, I could take plain old boring ... but coming from otherwise good actors ? ... if this represents anything even close to reality in American life, please let me off this country (why anyone would willfully waste time dreaming up this drivel is way beyond me - sorry I got suckered into helping support them financially, never again!). Well, at least something good came of our trip to the theater (Along with getting to hold my wife's hand for twice as long - in an effort to cleanse our brain cells of the film that unfortunately wasn't burned first, we stayed and watched "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" -- hey, don't laugh (though we did) actually even though that film may be for the dogs, it's a whole lot more fun than the one showing humans emulating their sexual habits -- yep the cute doggy film actually did shake our brain cells loose of the sticky black residue put there by the film that should have been burned BEFORE consumption.

Sep 19, 2008 - reevonbo on Burn After Reading
Burn After Reading

This is the biggest waste of time and money spent. It was absolutely tasteless and not funny. Unless you are a Coen Brothers fan don't waste your time. Pitt and Clooney can do so much better with scripts than this. Their acting was great, but the movie stunk!!

Sep 18, 2008 - genglefins on Burn After Reading

I'm a big Coen Brothers fan, and it's amazing how well they can direct different genres like noir, suspense, and comedy. They always seem to challenge themselves by taking on unique stories and not doing the same thing over and over and over (I'm looking at you, M. Night).

After last Summer's fantastic but heavy "No Country for Old Men," it's a nice change of pace seeing the Coens return to comedy. "Burn After Reading" fits nicely in spirit with the Coens' other dark comic masterpieces, "The Big Lebowski" and "Fargo." Burn After Reading takes the basic premise of Lebowski: a simple mistake, followed by a snowballing game of 'telephone' ultimately leading mundane characters to doing extremely bazaar things.

In Burn After Reading, the misunderstanding is built upon a CD containing government secrets being found on a gym locker room floor by two employees Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) and Chad (Brad Pitt). Linda and Chad believe they've found a perfect opportunity to extort the owner of the data, Osborne Cox (John Malkovich), out of money for Linda's plastic surgery.

But I've already given away too much of the plot. Part of the fun of Coen Brothers movies is how convoluted the story becomes and how different characters lives interact. As always, Francis McDomand is comic gold, and Brad Pitt is fantastic as the air-headed Brad. I happen to think Brad Pitt is a fantastic actor, and I really love it when he gets to do comedy. George Clooney is also fantastic as Harry Pfarrer, a mundane iceberg of a a man with 90% of his perversion lurking under the surface of the water. John Malkovich and Tilda Swinton are good as bitterly divorcing Cox's, but are a little typecast as "asshole" and "bitch" respectively.

Overall, this is a fantastic funny film, and I can't wait for it to come out on DVD so I can watch it back to back and over and over with The Big Lebowski.

Sep 18, 2008 - Cprettyleaf on Burn After Reading
Ridiculously Funny

This movie looked funny from the previews so I was expecting a good movie and what I got was a great movie! This lifted my spirits as a moviegoer since the prior few weeks had given me nothing but crap movies, so I was relieved to see something actually worth seeing.

This is a crazy story about two people that get a hold of some CIA documents and try to extort a CIA member for money to get them back. The CIA is not very interested because its not that important of information. There is also a crazy love deboggle going on between many of the different characters in the movie that is disturbing and at the same time hilarious.

The story was interesting and I love the cast, George Clooney plays a overly suspicious womanizer, Brad Pitt is a dopey fitness trainer, and John Malkovich is an angry alcoholic CIA agent. I really like John Malkovich but he always seems to play the same type of character in every movie, which is my only gripe for this one.

Sep 15, 2008 - AnDroo.Napoli on Burn After Reading
You think you got Issues....

The Coen Brothers are masters at bringing to the screen what would happen if people acted in public, how they do in private. There's a General aloofness that pervades thier films, I really can't put my finger on it, but it could be best described as "Light Hearted Sociopathy".

Everyone in this film is brilliant, and the allusions plentiful. Not once is anything important seen or said, it's all left to the viewer to fill in the gaps; brilliant writing, mainly because I'm sure the picture the audience paints in thier head is a lot worse that anythign they could show on screen.. Except for two scenes, I don't think even I could have pictured that one on my own without having it layed out for me. (A scene in particular involving John Malkovich and his um... "Extra Set of Keys"...) But since the rest of the scenes were layed out in the way they were, it really stood out.

It's been a long time since I seen a good live action film with depth. Coincidentally, I think the Coen Brothers wrote the last one too...

My only ding on this flick was the stale camera work. The environments were chosen well, but the shots were really bland.

Sep 15, 2008 - Tharrah on Burn After Reading
Amazingly Clever

I went into this movie thinking it was gonna be good, not great, but not bad either. I was very happy to find out it was amazing. The plot moves along at a perfect pace, with what would be slow points glazed over to only further heighten the comedic properties already present in the film.

This is the story of two people attempting to blackmail the CIA with documents they don't understand, and the CIA isn't horribly interested in. To further complicate things, a love pentagon erupts in the story that both intrigues and disturbs. I can honestly say I haven't seen a comedy with such a well written script, and great cast in a long time. The only thing that bothered me a little was that John Molkovich's character sounds a little silly when he's dropping the F-bomb, but that may just be a personal thing with me.