Movie Details

BURN AFTER READING

Osbourne Cox (Malkovich) is a CIA operative struggling to stay afloat. His job and marriage are going nowhere, and he`s got a drinking problem to boot. Harry Pfarrer (Clooney) is a Treasury Department marshal whose hobbies include Internet-dating behind his wife`s back and building homemade sex toys in this basement, not to mention sleeping with Osbourne`s dissatisfied wife. When Osbourne gets fired from the agency, he decides to write a tell-all memoir, blissfully unaware that he doesn`t have much to tell. However, a draft ends up in the hands of Harry`s other love, harebrained Linda Litzke (McDormand) and her dopey colleague Chad Feldheimer (Pitt). Convinced they`ve tapped into classified information, they see this as the perfect opportunity to make some serious cash, and they bring their discovery straight to the Russians! Instantly, affairs of love and state become absurdly entangled, and nobody knows who to trust or what to believe.

Language: English
Subtitle: NA
Classification: NC16
Release Date: 25 Sep 2008
Genre: Comedy / Thriller
Running Time: 1 Hour 35 Minutes
Distributor: SHAW ORGANIZATION
Cast: George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Format: NA

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Review
Writer: Ezekiel Lee Zhiang Yang

Writer Ratings:
Overall:
Cast:
Plot:
Effects: NA
Cinematography:

Watch this if you liked: "Blood Simple", "Raising Arizona"

Burn after watching, more like.

In a frustrating development since their Oscars Best Picture movie "No Country For Old Men", the celebrated Coen Bros break every Fargo-favouring heart with a very uncharacteristically standoffish effort called "Burn After Reading".

Although all the trademark irony and black humour are evidently projected, the farcical plot does not marry well with the usual exaggerated dialogue and comic characters, resulting in a non entirely directionless but very sterile story that cannot endear itself to anyone other than those who give complete adulation to Joel and Ethan's works.

Is it funny? Mostly, no. The characters will give you a giggle or two but the slow-building repressed humour we have come to love about the two directors gets lost in a goose hunt of a story, only to be painfully salvaged in patches by the excellent cast who really deserved something better. The versatile Brad Pitt has been singled out for this refreshing performance as a fitness freak doofus, complete with chewing gum and bad pop songs. A madman of a CIA agent delightfully played by John Malkovich kicks off the false chase, joined by another agent played by George Clooney who looks like he's got something stuck up his behind the whole time (a good thing, really). Frances McDormand doesn't get the lines she should have as an insecure, surgery-starved dimwit. They were already set up. It's a waste.

Worse, if you're unfortunate enough to have to catch this in a scissor-happy territory, trust that the sixty odd F-words in the film are sorely missing from the film, adding to the regrettable discolouration of the story. Swearing never seemed more important before.

The entire feature felt like Tilda Swinton's face - beautifully unique, otherworldly and yet ultimately cold. Either that, or all the sex toy remarks and alcohol-driven cursing effectively destroyed the movie when it was left on the censorship floor.

Cinema Online, 18 February 2009
   
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Classification
Effective 15 July 2011
G - Suitable for all ages
PG - Suitable for all ages, but parents should provide guidance to their young
PG13 - Suitable for persons aged 13 and above, but parental guidance is advised for children below 13
NC16 - Suitable for persons aged 16 years and above
M18 - Suitable for persons aged 18 years and above
R21 - Restricted to persons aged 21 and above only
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