Movie Review: Burn After Reading
In Burn After Reading, the Coen brothers are back in their dark comedy groove in a film that’s one part Fargo, one part Big Lebowski. Burn doesn’t tread in new territory for the Coens, but it’s still one of the most enjoyable films I’ve seen in a long time.
The plot is a warren of woefully misdirected characters, each on a singular, selfish mission that prevents them from ever seeing the larger impact of their actions. It’s a stew of adultery, blackmail, government bureaucracy and the most loveably dimwitted gym employees on the planet.
The cast, including George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand and John Malkovich, delivered terrific performances. And it pains me to say it, but Brad Pitt was so hilarious that the theater was in laugh-out-loud mode whenever he appeared on screen. It kind of makes me wonder how Brad Pitt and George Clooney lucked into such fantastic roles…
…cue dream sequence music here:
PITT: Hey Clooney, see you’re still dragging that Oscar with you everywhere.
CLOONEY: Well, I didn’t expect you to bring along the entire cast of a Sally Struthers’ commercial, but here we are.
PITT: Those are my children, Clooney.
CLOONEY: I’ll pay you five million dollars if you can tell me all their names right now. I’d offer more but that’s all I’ve got in my wallet.
PITT: Save it, Clooney. I don’t need your money. I need a film, friend. It’s time to bring back some of that Brad Pitt magic to the big screen. I’ve been away too long saving the world and showing up Bono and whatnot.
CLOONEY: My god, Pitt, you’re really depressed, aren’t you?
PITT: You have no idea. I’m even too depressed to make another baby.
CLOONEY: Egads! Manservant! Pitt is talking crazy. Bring him a case of Chateau Margaux, a gallon of orphan’s tears and a stack of those Google stock certificates we use as toilet paper.
PITT: That’s sweet, George, but I don’t think it will help.
CLOONEY: No? We could light a fire using stacks of thousand-dollar bills. That always makes me feel better.
PITT: Nah. Did that yesterday.
CLOONEY: My god man, your life has reached a new handsome low. At least you still have your wife.
PITT: Sigh. For the thousandth time, she’s not my wife. She’s my lover-slash-co-parenting-partner. Why is that so hard to remember?
CLOONEY: Hmmm? Sorry, I didn’t catch that. I was too busy looking at my handsome reflection in this priceless mirror that belonged to Julius Caesar. Oops, dropped it. Oh, well, I’ll just get another.
PITT: Here, take mine.
CLOONEY: You know what, Pitt, you are a true friend. I think I’ll let you in on this next Coen Brothers film I’m doing. It’s gonna be a zinger!
PITT: Do you mean it, George?
CLOONEY: I’m too rich and handsome to lie. Consider it done. Manservant! Bring me a telephone! No, no, not the one covered in priceless gemstones. I want the one with a unicorn horn as the antenna!
PITT: A real unicorn horn? I didn’t think those existed.
CLOONEY: You don’t own a unicorn? Oh, Pitt, no wonder you’re so depressed.