Reviewed by: Misty Wagner
|Featuring:||George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins, David Rasche, J.K. Simmons, Dermot Mulroney, See all »|
|Director:||Ethan Coen, Joel Coen|
|Producer:||Tim Bevan, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Eric Fellner, Robert Graf|
“Intelligence is relative.”
Throughout the course of “Burn After Reading” I kept asking myself how I would even begin to review this film. I sat, waiting for a plot to emerge in some way which would easily fit into a neat little summary. That never happened… In fact, as the characters on the screen became more twisted, things only complicated more.
“Burn After Reading” is a very dark comedy by the Coen Brothers (“No Country For Old Men,” “Fargo”) and is brimming over with performances of an all star cast. Perhaps this movie is similar to one of those uniquely complicated pieces of art work in a sophisticated and eclectic gallery, where the very purpose and meaning of the piece changes from each admirer. From my perspective, this is a tale of greed—financial greed, sexual greed, greed of alcoholic proportions… There are five main characters. Characters whose lives don’t all move about in the same circles. Somehow though, through events of no significant proportions, the lives of each of them are altered unspeakably, changing the course of their lives from there on out.
Osborne Cox, (John Malkovich) is an alcoholic and recently out of work government employee, when he finds himself the target of a blackmail scheme by two gym employees Chad Feldheimer and Linda Litzke. (Brad Pitt And Francis Mcdormand) Meanwhile, Osborne’s wife Katie (Tilda Swinton) is having an adulterous affair with womanizing sex addict Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney). The choices that each character makes, to only further their own greed, only serves to hurt themselves and everyone else.
Profanity in this film is incredibly heavy, from the very beginning.
Sex is a central theme in the film. Though I don’t remember any nudity, there are simulated sex scenes and sexual dialog consistently throughout the course of the movie.
There are a few instances of violence, one which is shockingly graphic because it is unexpected, though the scene is brief.
There is no value put on love or marriage, and very little value placed on a life. Both of those issues did not sit well with me, at all. And that is, sadly, just the tip of offenses…
The performances of Brad Pitt and George Clooney would easily be highlights to this movie. Many of the laughs are derived from their lines or expressions. Even so, had it not been for the string of a-list actors, this film would be even weaker than it already is. Certainly not one of the best films the Coen brothers have done. By now, most people who flock to the theaters to see a Coen brother’s film already know what to expect in regards to offensive material. Making as much sense as any other film of theirs does though, this one holds true to their creative direction and clever scene shots and camera angles. As always, there is an unpredictability which keeps it’s audience engaged.
“Burn After Reading” is laugh out loud hilarious, but a majority of it’s funny is over the top—in your face offensive. Despite any laughs that I may have had, at the end of the film I honestly couldn’t find one redemptive quality. In good conscience I could never recommend this film. As I said though, this isn’t to say that it isn’t funny, just that it’s far more offensive than comical.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.