Burn After Reading ***

Brad Pitt in "Burn After Reading"

Brad Pitt in "Burn After Reading"

After the brooding thriller that was “No Country For Old Men”, the Coen brothers find themselves returning to dark comedy.  This is familiar territory for them, having directed films like “Raising Arizona”, and the great “Fargo”.  The plot involves a few less then intelligent gym employees, who come across a CD containing the memoirs of an ex CIA analyst.  The employees are played by Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand, in two of the funniest performances in the film.

The former CIA man is played by John Malkovich, as a no nonsense guy, who does not taking it lightly when he is let go for apparently having a drinking problem.  When he finds himself blackmailed by the gym employees, he exposes them for the fools that they are.  Also getting caught up in this is George Clooney, a treasury agent who is having an affair with Tilda Swinton, who is married to the CIA man.  Clooney also finds himself dating McDormand, who is bent on getting many cosmetic surgeries done because, in her words, “I have taken this body as far as it can go”.

Here the Coens do what they do best.  Cross manic humour with dark violence, and a plot that intertwines many characters in unexpected ways.  The interesting thing about this movie is that in the end, nobody seems to really know what happened, which is probably the ultimate joke.  Now this is not one of the Coen’s best, and certainly not in league with “No Country”, but it is funnier and edgier then most R rated comedies.


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