Burn After Reading


I’m not a huge Coen brothers fan, but I do find their movies interesting.  Like many of the Coen’s movies, Burn After Reading is about normal people who come across an illegal way to make lots of money, become obsessed with it, and consequently watch their lives unravel.  Frances McDormand, a Coen brothers movie regular (and I found out why – she’s married to one of them), was great in this movie.  She plays a woman named Linda Litzke, a gym employee who is obsessed with reinventing herself via plastic surgery.  She, along with a gym co-worker played by Brad Pitt, come across a CIA agent’s (played by John Malkovich) disk at their gym and bumble through a scheme to use it as blackmail.  They are truly a couple of idiots, and Brad Pitt’s performance as the big doofus Chad is hilarious – might have been my favorite part of the movie, and this is not coming from a Brad Pitt fan or anything like that.  Not that this movie is a comedy, don’t get me wrong.  I suppose it could be classified as a dark comedy, but I would say it’s more of a suspense film with some comedic moments.  As with any Coen brothers movie, there are numerous twists and turns, so I’m going to cut my synopsis short for fear of revealing any spoilers.  Go see it, watch how the events unfold, and you’ll be entertained.  Besides Brad Pitt’s character, my favorite part of the movie was how they told the story – as a case file being discussed by a couple of FBI agents.  If you’re a Coen brothers fan already, then I’m sure you’ll love it – it is everything Coen: money, foiled scheme, setting – the Coens are famous for making the setting of their movies very integral in the plots, and this one is no exception.  Washington, DC and the surrounding area of Virginia is the locale of choice for this one, and it’s all very important to the relation of the events and how they unfold.  This movie features a few Coen movie regulars like Frances McDormand, George Clooney, and Richard Jenkins (who also gives a great performance as the forlorn gym manager, by the way – they really make you feel sorry for his character).  Better than No Country for Old Men, The Ladykillers, and O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Burn After Reading is second only to Fargo when comparing it to other Coen brothers movies in my opinion.  An entertaining 96 minutes at the movies – this one goes by fast.  And make sure you pay attention; if you miss something, I could see where it would be difficult to catch up – a lot happens in those 96 minutes!

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