01
Oct
08

Movie Review: Burn After Reading

 

 

No biggee.

 

Starring John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, J.K. Simmons and Frances McDormand. Directed by the Coen Bros.

 

The film kicks off with satellite imaging of the Earth, eventually settling on CIA Headquarters. The first of the cavalcade of characters is Osbourne Cox (Malkovich), a malcontent who is being fired for being an alcoholic. His wife is Katie, a woman pissed-off with her marriage to him and is secretly having an affair with Harry Pfarrer (Clooney), a guy who works for the Treasury Department and has such great stamina that after sex he goes on a 5-mile run. Harry is married to Sandy (Elizabeth Marvel), an author of children’s books.

 

Osbourne decides to shovel it back to the CIA and begins writing a memoir. Trouble is, his wife plans on leaving him and downloads it, along with his finances, onto a CD. That CD is left at Hardbodies, a physical fitness center.

 

Meanwhile, at Hardbodies… the disc is found on the floor of the womens’ locker room. Chad (Pitt) is a fitness nut: California “young and hip” personality, bleached hair, and always needing to find a place to park is bike. Linda is a woman pushing 40 and feels that her body has taken her as far as it can go, and if only she can get enough money to pay for multiple plastic surgeries, she’ll find someone and quit being lonely. When Brad discovers CIA info on the disc, he scams with Linda (McDormand) to try and get a reward for the contents. When Cox refuses to be extorted and blackmailed, they try to sell the disc to the Russians.

 

Tragedy, comedy, and plot twists ensue.

 

For a Coen Bros’ movie, it’s alright. I liked it. I’m not quite sure how others will fathom it, but I enjoyed it. It’s not “No Country for Old Men,” it’s not “Fargo,” and it’s not “The Big Lebowski.” This one is a creature all to itself.

 

It’s hard to point out any one certain part in this film. Maybe I can mention Chad and Linda calling Osbourne early in the morning, trying to get a reward for the CD. Maybe I can mention what exactly Harry builds in his basement. And maybe I can mention how it all wraps up in an expository scene with J.K. Simmons. But hey, if you’re intrigued, catch the movie.

 

The Coen Bros. are masters at blending comedy and tragedy, with suspense being an electrical current running until the end. My only complaint is that this serving was lukewarm.

 

My Grade: B

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