I first heard about Burn After Reading via a commercial for the DVD. I couldn’t believed I had missed this film in theaters. Two of my favorite actors, George Clooney and Brad Pitt, star in this spy comedy that will surely have you laughing on the floor.
Produced by the Coen brothers, of No Country for Old Men fame, Burn After Reading is most comparable to their film O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Not only because they both star Clooney, but because the characters are, well, portrayed as foolish. In Burn After Reading, each character has a defining "trait" – Pitt’s character is a fitness addict, while Frances McDormand’s character is obsessed with getting plastic surgery to improve her body. The result of this mish-mash of characters is a pretty hilarious film.
Films with all-star casts like this one aren’t immune to the bug of bad acting, but in my opinion, this movie is full of good performances. John Malkovich plays probably the funniest character, a foul-mouthed man with a drinking problem. He pulls off the anxiety and anger in a fantastic way, and every scene with him in it is instantly funny.
Burn After Reading has a pretty unique plot. A CIA intelligence analyst (Malkovich) is demoted from his job because of a drinking problem. He decides to quit, and write a memoir. However, he loses the CD that his work is saved on at the gym, where 2 employees (Pitt, McDormand) find the CD. They view the contents, and think the CD contains secret CIA data. This results in a hilarious blackmail plot that goes terribly wrong throughout the entire movie.
Music was not a big factor in this film. The score was composed by Carter Burwell, and features many percussion instruments, the main being a Japanese Taiko drum. Joel Coen was quoted as saying that they wanted the score to be "something important sounding but absolutely meaningless".
Overall, Burn After Reading is a pretty good film. Its comedic value is high, but it clocks in at an hour and 36 minutes, which seems pretty short. Also, the film is very high in foul language, so this is definitely not one for the kids. Clooney and Pitt bring an impressive performance, and Malkovich produces many laughs. I think the Coen brothers have once again shown the world they are the most dynamic film-making duo in the business, period.
Golden Squid Rating
Rent it, love it, buy it!
Burn After Reading @ Amazon.com