W ith the amount of comedic junk floating around the film industry, it is truly refreshing to have writers, and directors, like the Coen brothers to rise to the occasion and bring audiences a laugh-worthy show.
A brilliant cross between Fargo and The Big Lebowski, Burn After Reading delivers a hilarious view of Osbourne Cox's (John Malkovich) life after he quits his job as an analyst for the CIA in response to being demoted. After Cox leaves, an entire series of surreal and borderline psychotic events begin to unravel. Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt) is a dim-witted gym trainer at Hardbodies Fitness Centre who stumbles upon Cox's incomplete memoirs that he believes contain classified state information. Feldheimer's co-worker Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand), who suffers from body image issues, convinces Feldheimer to blackmail the former analyst into giving them money for the safe return of his memoirs. Litzke is certain that the memories can rack in enough money to cover her extensive cosmetic surgeries. Meanwhile George Clooney plays Harry Pfarrer, a womanizing and paranoid treasury agent who is having an affair with Cox's wife, Katie (Tilda Swinton).
John Malkovich's foul-mouthed former analyst with a drinking problem, along with Brad Pitt as the oblivious health nut, steal the laughs throughout the show, especially when the two characters meet to discuss the return of Cox's memoirs. J.K. Simmons also makes a noteworthy appearance as a baffled CIA superior who is receiving constant updates about the "cluster-fuck" of events surrounding Cox's memoirs.
After receiving much praise for their critically-acclaimed and Academy Award winning film No Country For Old Men, the Coen brothers finally return to the wonderful world of dark comedy-- thankfully, far more comedic than their misguided effort, The Ladykillers. Burn After Reading also marks the return of Joel and Ethan Coen's original screenplay penmanship since their movie The Man Who Wasn't There in 2001. No matter how violent or vulgar the Coen brothers' movies turn out to be, they always are able to pull it off in a tasteful manner making them truly iconic filmmakers of our time. The duo also has an infinite understanding of the contemporary as their satirical reflection of our society's image obsession is quite evident from the characters working at the Hardbodies Fitness Centre to Pfarrer's habitual jogging after sex. The criticisms however are hidden under a layer of idiocy spread with such comedic finesse by the actors. Their constant casting of strong actors, such as McDormand and Clooney, to translate these outrageous characters on screen is another talent the brothers possess.
Full of affairs, physical fitness, Russians and Internet dating in only a way the Coen Brothers can deliver with such wit, Burn After Reading is sure to be an essential addition to any film lover's collection.