The Coen brothers' Burn After Reading | Film Review | Indy Week
Pin It

The Coen brothers' Burn After Reading 

A country for ridiculous men

click to enlarge Richard Jenkins, Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand star in Joel and Ethan Coen's Burn After Reading. - PHOTO BY MACALL POLAY/ FOCUS FEATURES

Burn After Reading opens Friday throughout the Triangle.

Writer directors Joel and Ethan Coen, as The New York Times noted, haven't sold out, haven't used their quirky cult successes to smooth their way to a Harry Potter-size paycheck. Burn After Reading hearkens back to Coen classics Oh Brother Where Art Thou and The Big Lebowski, films propelled inexorably forward by bizarre characters and slashing humor. The Coen brothers are a blessed genre unto themselves who (thankfully) will never fill the multiplex.

John Malkovich plays Osbourne Cox, a CIA agent abruptly dumped from the Balkans desk, fuming obscenely that the agency is all bureaucracy and no mission. His icy wife, Tilda Swinton, the world's most terrifying pediatrician, is conducting a passionless affair with George Clooney, a former Treasury agent with a smooth line and an addiction to online hookups. Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt work at Hardbodies gym, and they stumble on a computer disc with Cox's bitter, rambling autobiography, which they fancy they can turn into some ready cash—somehow.

McDormand and Clooney are proven Coen comedians, but Pitt's blithely clueless personal trainer is the new star in their repertory firmament. The plot, with everyone screwing everyone under the looming phallic shadow of the Washington Monument (the hero's name is Cox, for crying out loud!), is clearly not a serious indictment of government intelligence leaks.

Burn After Reading depicts an irritable society, where everyone is going ballistic shrieking "What the f---?" into the telephone, at the boss, at the traffic, at their spouses and sex partners, and, futilely, at the whole world. People exercise and hydrate frantically, joylessly, the same way they have sex, and they blather about reinvention, whether someone is a "can-do" person and if they "sweat the small stuff." Like an intricate musical contraption, all the people surveilling, stalking and intriguing will cross paths. A phone call, a car, a gun or a hatchet will be wielded, as paranoia inevitably intersects with delusion.

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Film Review



Twitter Activity

Comments

Most predictable and pointless movie I have seen since In The Bedroom, Unfaithful and No Country for Old Men. Characters …

by FaulknerLives on The Tonally Incoherent Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Hasn't a Clue How to Manage Its Weighty Themes and Discordant Plot (Film Review)

And before you pick a part the grammar and the spelling in the previous post it was done with speech …

by James Copfer on Only military guys can understand (Film Review)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

Most predictable and pointless movie I have seen since In The Bedroom, Unfaithful and No Country for Old Men. Characters …

by FaulknerLives on The Tonally Incoherent Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Hasn't a Clue How to Manage Its Weighty Themes and Discordant Plot (Film Review)

And before you pick a part the grammar and the spelling in the previous post it was done with speech …

by James Copfer on Only military guys can understand (Film Review)

First of all you have ridiculously over thought this movie and over.analyzied it. Was it a good movie no. Was …

by James Copfer on Only military guys can understand (Film Review)

Overall, Darkest Hour is a solid but not sensational historical drama.All actors performance is great especially the gary oldman. …

by amarkayam on The Average American Sees Five Thousand Movies in a Lifetime. Half of Them Come Out This Week. (Film Review)

Not typical of Hollywood? It ticked most of the boxes from my point of view.

by Dawn Sanderson-Browning on The Tonally Incoherent Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Hasn't a Clue How to Manage Its Weighty Themes and Discordant Plot (Film Review)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation