A fun, dark, adult comedy with great performances and an odd story that manages to entertain.
“BURN AFTER READING” stars; Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand as gym employees that look to sell a disk back to a CIA agent when they discover the contents, even though they have no idea what it means. They attempt to contact this agent played by John Malkovich to sell it back and things don’t go as planned. This agent is also having issues at work and in his marriage, unknown to the fact his wife (Tilda Swinton) is having an affair with another man (George Clooney).
In my opinion the Coen brothers wrote a quirky, unique, comedy that was a ton of fun because of its oddities and the cast performances. It’s hard to mention anyone first because they all delivered fun, charismatic personas to their roles. Malkovich was great and completely sells the burnt-out agent characteristics as well as his hilariously articulate rants during his more frustrated moments in the story.
Pitt, McDormand, and Clooney were all great as well. McDormand was amusing with her dumbfounded demeanor and Pitt was hilarious as the exaggerated physical trainer. Clooney was the shining member of the cast with his performance. He was a blend of his usual persona with a subtle and convincing comedic overcoat that completely sold his role.
The writing was also very good. The script keeps a fast pace and the intertwining of different story-arcs were very smooth and never made the story-line feel fragmented at all. There is a good amount of subtle humor in this story and much of it works in my opinion. Never do the jokes feel forced and watching this film again after a few years I could still sit back and laugh at this odd story and cast of characters.
With the strange theme of the story the unpredictability is high as you cannot really guess what will happen as things progress. Even having seen this film already, the likable characters hold the re-watch value at a strong level. Not to mention the fact the laughs are more enjoyable given the caliber of the performers. To see high-profile names in the business clearly buy into the material and giving effort to make the most out of their characters translated well on-screen to me and add a positive element to this dark-comedy.
This isn’t an amazing film but it’s a fun one with a story that may not be the most detailed or layered, but is perfect for complementing strong characters performances. Often when reviewing films I feel talent in the cast is wasted but “Burn After Reading” is not one of them. This film takes a strangely simple story, with potential for many comical moments then enlists top notch talent and lets them run with it. Something that works great in its delivery and makes this film worth a night in front of the screen.
Time: 96 min
MPAA Rating: R (For pervasive language, some sexual content and violence)