Burn After Reading
Release Year: 2008
Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Writers: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Starring: Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, John Malkovich, Richard Jenkins, Elizabeth Marvel, David Rasche, J.K. Simmons, Olek Krupa, Michael Countryman, Kevin Sussman
Rating: Nominated for 2 Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Best Actress – Comedy or Musical (Frances McDormand).
Linda (Frances McDormand) and Chad (Brad Pitt), two unscrupulous and foolish gym employees, come across a disk of information written by a former CIA agent and attempts to sell it to the Russians.
This comedic farce was the Coens’s follow-up to their critically acclaim and quite dark No Country for Old Men (2007) and like other of their more lighthearted film it is not talk about as much as their heavier output. This is perhaps understandable, but few filmmaker today can make a farce that feels like it would fit well with more oldschool farcical comedy quite as well as the Coens. The film is mostly a bunch of silly characters whose path cross during a very eventful couple of days; yes, the film revolves around a disk containing part of a CIA agents memoirs, but more accurately it is a film where lots of things happen quickly without that much actually happening. All the characters (who, by the way, all seem to be sleeping with each other) are funny in their own way. McDormand (Fargo, 1996), as usual, is wonderful, Clooney (Hail, Caesar, 2016) seems to be having a blast, and Pitt (Ocean’s Eleven, 2001) is surprisingly funny as the dimwitted Chad. Two minor characters that stand out is the tragic gym manager played by Richard Jenkins (Friends with Benefits, 2011) and J.K. Simmons (Juno, 2007) in a hilarious small part as a CIA superior. It requires that you have a liking or is in the mood for farce, but if that is the case this is a funny slice of madness and is highly recommended.
According to the Coens, they wrote this script while writing the script for No Country for Old Men (2007) and would usually alternate between scripts every other day.