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Burn after Reading

  • Comedy
  • Drama
  • 2008
  • Ethan Coen
  • 91 mins
  • 15

Summary

When faced with a demotion at work, disgruntled CIA analyst Osborne Cox resigns from his job and writes a tell-all memoir as revenge on his former bosses. However, a computer disc containing the manuscript falls into the hands of two gym employees, who make a disastrous attempt to sell it to the Russians. The Coen brothers' comedy, starring Brad Pitt, George Clooney, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton.

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Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This crime caper from the Coen brothers highlights their talent for blending sophistication and silliness. John Malkovich gets the chance to go totally over the top as Osborne Cox, an indignant, heavy-drinking CIA veteran who begins writing an unauthorised memoir after he's fired. When the computer disc containing his book is mislaid at a gym, fitness instructor Chad (Brad Pitt) and his frumpy colleague Linda (Frances McDormand) seek to profit with a half-baked blackmail scheme. This is the springboard for many madcap cloak-and-dagger antics, which also involve Cox's wife Katie (a hard-nosed Tilda Swinton) and her lover Harry, a federal marshal played by George Clooney. It's a brilliant performance from Clooney, who plays Harry as a vainglorious twit, echoing his previous turns in the Coens' O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Intolerable Cruelty. The plot is overly complicated and rather ridiculous, but therein lies the fun. After all the philosophising over their Oscar-laden No Country for Old Men (2007), it's as though the Coens are now inviting us to lighten up.

How to watch

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Credits

Cast

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Harry PfarrerGeorge Clooney
Linda LitzkeFrances McDormand
Chad FeldheimerBrad Pitt
Osborne CoxJohn Malkovich
Katie CoxTilda Swinton
Ted TreffonRichard Jenkins
Sandy PfarrerElizabeth Marvel
CIA officerDavid Rasche
CIA superiorJ K Simmons
Cosmetic surgeonJeffrey DeMunn

Crew

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DirectorEthan Coen
DirectorJoel Coen

Details

Theatrical distributor
Universal
Released on
2008-10-17
Language
English
Guidance
Violence, swearing, sex scenes.
Available on
DVD and Blu-ray
Formats
Colour
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