“You should change into a suit.”
Joel and Ethan Coen’s previous film won four of its eight Oscar nominations. They followed the most acclaimed – and bleakest – film of their career with a return to what they do better than anyone – a screwball black comedy based on an original story.
In fact, Burn After Reading (2008) was the first film based on an original story by Joel and Ethan Coen since 2001’s The Man Who Wasn’t There.
Part of Burn After Reading’s genius is in casting the A-list ensemble as total idiots. George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton and Richard Jenkins all excel as earnest people with small, insignificant lives.
The film is a playful homage to the genre of Cold War spy movies.
Civilians Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand accidently find a copy of what they believe to be top-secret information belonging to a high level CIA agent. In fact, their find is merely the inconsequential memoirs of a disgruntled analyst with a drinking problem and an abusive, philandering, wife.
The characters are all idiots, on an idiotic mission. But they believe they are in real danger, involved in high-level espionage. Continue reading →