Burn After Reading

So I finally got around to seeing this movie, and I now know why they didn't show really any plot within the trailer. It's best summarized in the last couple lines of the film, but I won't write them here, because it's one of the biggest laughs of the movie. So instead, I'll try to do my best here. Osborne Cox (John Malkovich) quits his job at the CIA after they start to screw him over and decides to write his memoirs instead, but this doesn't bode well with his wife, Katie (Tilda Swinton). Katie is an austere hardass who just so happens to be having an affair with the highly paranoid Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney), who is also married and having numerous affairs with other women. Katie starts to file for divorce against Osborne and pressures Harry into doing the same with his wife so they can be together. Enter Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand), a woman with low self-esteem who works at a gym and wants to get four different cosmetic surgeries, but just doesn't have the money to pay for it. And then a disc that includes copies of Osborne's memoir notes shows up at the gym, wherein Linda and her friend/co-worker Chad (Brad Pitt), a goofy and rather innocent ‘good Samaritan', think they could get some kind of reward for returning what looks to be highly confidential information. But things get mixed up and everything begins to spiral down and become chaotic, causing bad things to happen to pretty much everybody.

     The movie starts off rather slow. For about the first twenty or so minutes, I would figure, everything seems slightly random and unimportant. I wasn't sure what to make of the movie, especially when it would use highly over-dramatic music for scenes about practically nothing. But the movie really starts to pick up once Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt are introduced. I would say that they were the highlight of the movie (specifically Brad Pitt). The only character I liked better than Pitt's was JK Simmons', but he was only in the movie for two scenes (though those two scenes were basically two of the best/funniest scenes in the movie). And the humor itself was randomly dispersed throughout, so it wasn't non-stop laughter, but there were a good amount of laugh-out-loud moments.

     The two best things about the movie, I would say, were the acting and the camera work. The acting from everybody was top notch, which is expected from such high-caliber actors and actresses. The underdog of the acting scene of the movie, however, was Richard Jenkins, who I don't believe was even promoted to being in the movie, even though he has a rather big role. His character was rather heartbreaking, really. His and Brad Pitt's character can really be seen as the two ‘innocents' of the film (even though Pitt was involved in blackmail schemes, the quality of his character wasn't even remotely malignant). And as I mentioned, the camera work was great. There were some really fun angles and shots that caught my attention as I was watching. Though this is a Coen Brothers' movie, so that is expected.

     There isn't much else to discuss about the film. Those are all my positive and negative comments about it. I think the beginning could have been done a bit better, but the second half of the movie is just superb and really funny. There should have been more JK Simmons, though. Similar to my biggest complaint about No Country For Old Men, I would have almost complained about it having some anti-climactic moments (for not showing huge events and just ‘telling' about it instead, especially at the end), but the only times that happened, it was ‘told' during a JK Simmons scene, which really redeemed the quality of the effect. Otherwise, that's all I have for you.

Reviewed by: Nick