Movie Review: Burn After Reading (2008)

After making a conscious effort recently to catch up on the Coen brothers movies I’d missed (Raising Arizona, The Man Who Wasn’t There, and Barton Fink; I still need Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? and Miller’s Crossing), I was of course pretty psyched for their latest: Burn After Reading. As much as I liked No Country for Old Men, I like it best when they’re doing comedy-thrillers with body counts. This had all of those things, and did a pretty good job combining everything. Hardbodies Gym employee Linda Litzke, desperate for cosmetic surgery funds, teams up with her coworker Chad and uses a personal disc found on the gym floor to blackmail former CIA agent Osborne Cox. There are various complications, misunderstandings, shouting matches, and acts of adultery. The plot is convoluted, but quite aware of this fact, as evidenced by the CIA’s confused recaps of everyone’s doings. My main concern is that there are too many characters. It’s not that there are wasted characters or anything, but I felt like I didn’t fully get to know most of the people who were there. Less characters would have meant more development for the ones left. However, this detail doesn’t take away much from the jokes and good times and guns and poorly-thought-out schemes.

Basically, between Brad Pitt dancing like no one’s watching, John Malkovich marching around in a bathrobe with a hatchet, George Clooney building secret devices, Frances McDormand plotting against America, and Tilda Swinton’s hair style, this movie has pretty much all the things a person needs. Remember that it’s a Coen brothers movie so people will die, and you’ll be ok! Definitely check it out for some hilarious and exciting times!

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