Burn After Reading
George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich
Tilda Swinton, Brad Pitt
Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
Universal / Spotlight Pictures 2008

Burn After Reading is not quite your usual Coen Brothers dark comedy. This DVD certainly requires a patient, committed audience as Burn After Reading is a character-based minutia oriented comedy. Fans of the Coen brothers and recent thrillers will certainly appreciate all the inside jokes.

For others, Burn After Reading is going to be a matter of taste. If you buy into this comedy the first time around, it is sure to become a repeated favorite. If not, this DVD is going to be a less than interesting experience. Then again, most Coen brothers movies are like that.

Here, Tilda Swinton is married to Osborne Cox (John Malkovitch) a CIA desk man who just quit the agency. She is also having an affair with married man George Clooney who is having affairs with other women. Mrs. Cox decides to divorce her husband, she makes a copy of the stuff on his PC to get his financial records. The disc is accidentally left at the local gym. The disc is found by muscle boy Brad Pitt and co-worker Frances McDormand who decide to extract a finder’s fee from Agent Cox.

Of course, this being the Coen brothers, it is a lot more complicated than that.

The comedy comes from all the undercover stuff such as Clooney’s paranoia and Pit and McDormand’s attempts to extract a reward from the former CIA agent. More subtle laughs come from most of the characters being in their forties and having mid-life and relationship crises.

Like all Coen brothers comedies, this one has a few very dark comedic bits that always manage to surprise, shock, and amuse the viewer. A favorite is what Clooney’s secret is and what happens to it.

This really is a DVD that has to grow on you if you are not a long time Coen brothers fan. If Burn After Reading does, you will very much enjoy it. If not, you will not.


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