Burn After Reading (2008) – The Next Level of Idiocy

“Burn After Reading” has various meanings in various interpretations. First, the term itself refers to a spy to protect top-secret information. Second, it’s about burning something that has been read because it’s very dangerous to read. Third, it’s about burning without any reason. Fourth, it’s about burning something important so that no one knows. And finally, it’s about ‘burning’ in other cases. Burn as for insane, idiots, mistakes, or kinds of things. This Coen brothers‘ “Burn After Reading” is probably the highest levels of black comedy movie I’ve ever watched. The meanings of the term actually depend on anyone’s interpretation. However, all of those meanings illustrate and portray what actually happened in this film.

Honestly, it’s hard to explain the synopsis. But, I just want to be careful. So, the story starts from John Malkovich as Osborne Cox. CIA fired him from his job because of drinking problems. Tilda Swinton as Katie Cox or his wife plans to sue for divorce from her husband. However, she first wanted to drain his wealth. At the same time, she had an affair with George Clooney as Harry Pfarrer, a flamboyant man and also a playboy.

Katie plans to break into her husband’s computer and accidentally copy some memoir data written by him. The copy accidentally left in a locker in the gym. Then, Brad Pitt as Chad Feldheimer and Frances McDormand as Linda Litzke found it. Linda needs a lot of money for a cosmetic surgery because she feels she is always bad at romance. Meanwhile, Chad wants to threaten Osborne in extorting money from the memoir so they can get a lot of money. Elsewhere, Richard Jenkins as Ted or their boss at the gym secretly love Linda. The story begins with the impression that it’s so stupid and ends in a stupid way too.

It’s such an initial picture that occurred in this film. In essence, this is a matter of one character to another character impacts each other and raises many misunderstandings and coincidences between the plots. At first, it’s hard to understand what this film really is. However, this is typical Coen brothers movie themselves and their trademark. They involve many different plots, fates, and events that occur by chance. All of that is then interconnect each other. It’s kind of similar to Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” but way more idiot.

On the other hand, the Coen brothers really like to make black comedy and nihilism. This film has many kinds of skepticism, satire, cynicism, racism, and death. All of that is then coupled in a funny way. It’s more to things that are taboo so that it creates an uncomfortable feeling. “Burn After Reading” concocted an ironic comedy movie and involved many murder events. The murder that produces comedy that we can laugh at. There is no emotional element, you just laugh. Just like “Fargo” but as usual, this movie is more an idiot. It’s like a vicious circle. The circle is filled with a collection of ignorant people but in another sense.

“Burn After Reading” has many casts with such superb performance. It reaches the next level of idiocy. John Malkovich as Osborne isn’t one of the characters who love to drink. His ego is high and always feels strange around him. He is bald, but his baldness doesn’t make his character’s style so funny. He is also quite sarcastic and really likes to berate people. Plus, the moment when he explodes and becomes insane is like you better stay away. George Clooney as a mysterious character no longer shows his handsomeness. Besides being a playboy, you will never know what he actually did in his basement. In fact, just love his reaction when he first killed people. And it looks like, I don’t want to say who he killed.

Brad Pitt is just amazing in this movie. Of all the characters, his character fate is the one I like the most in this film. He is indeed stupid, just like other characters. Every time he did that stupid idiot dance, he seems to be in a normal situation. In fact, his stupidity made him get into a really stupid situation too. Thank you for the intention. There is Frances McDormand. She is the most innocent character in this film. She is gentle, good at taking over the situation, and reliable. Unlike Brad Pitt or other characters, she is not that idiot. However, I only like her stupid expressions and even her fools can’t be helped anymore. It comes with one scene when Clooney knows McDormand’s true identity. And I seem to repeat the scene just to see her stupid expression once more. Clooney as well.

Tilda Swinton and Richard Jenkins are probably the two other actors in this film who play as normal characters. However, it doesn’t change the fact that they are also dragged into a vicious circle. Besides that, they give the best of all. Indeed, “Burn After Reading” has many memorable and very comical characters. I liked everything from the beginning even though in the end, I knew how this film ended. From the start it was an idiot, the ending was really an idiot. So be the term burn after reading. Coen brothers seem to give a sufficient portion of each character. As if there is no major or minor here.

This Coen brothers’ “Burn After Reading” is one of the insane black comedy films ever. It’s rare for people to be able to enjoy a typical film like this and even you’ve to feel it slowly. This film is funny but sometimes mixes other elements and the tone itself. Depends on the Coen brothers. The movie isn’t too long but it’s a bit difficult to stay or digest the original story. All the actors contributed a lot of great performances in this film. It has comical and memorable characters, of course, all are idiots. Idiots in a good sense. Not the best but one of my favorite from directors.

4 out of 5 stars.

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2 Responses

  1. Karandi says:

    I really enjoy the movie and I think a lot of people living in the modern world can relate to the sense of pointless futility of all of these character’s actions. Really funny and thought provoking at the same time.

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