Oct 20, 2008

Burn After Reading

"Burn After Reading" is, quite simply, a wonderful cinema experience. Funny, clever, topical, it is another chapter in the impeccable Coen Brothers book of film. Coming hot on the heels of the truly perfect "No Country For Old Men", this wildly funny film shows the Coens can access all areas of the cinematic spectrum. Superbly acted and wonderfully written, this film hits all the right marks. In spades.

"Burn After Reading" is, on the surface, an espionage film. Deep down though it is a film about human foibles and failures, told with great wit and panache. Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich) is a burnt out CIA operative who has quit his post after receiving a demotion. He is unhappily married to the austere Katie (Tilda Swinton), who is having an affair with the hyperactive and sometimes paranoid Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney), who works at Treasury and is also having his own marital problems. Stepping into their high octane world are the precipitously hopeless pair of Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) and Chad Felheimer (Brad Pitt), who work at a fitness centre where they find a disk of supposedly classified information. Their plan to sell the disk only leads to disaster and despair, although with hilarious results. As stated, this game of cloak and dagger and clandestine meetings is told with brisk pace and sharp wit. However, this really serves as a backdrop to the machinations of the central characters human failings. Greed, jealousy and decpetion are all in full force as scenarios play out, often badly. As would be expected, the script is razor sharp with many delicious lines. And the cast is truly superb. Malkovich is wonderful as the almost psychotic Cox, whilst Clooney is superb as the confused and harrassed Pfarrer. Brad Pitt's scenes are hilarious too, as he shines as a simple man way in over his head. The film is also a sharp commentary on the world of international politics and diplomacy, gleefully pointing out its many hypocrisies. Ladies and gentlemen, once again your cinematic experience is safe in the hands of the Coens.


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