Burn After Reading (2008)
Review by Trent Russi
Burn After Reading was a silly and ridiculous movie that had me giggling the whole time. When an ex-CIA analyst has a disc of information accidentally left at the gym, it is discovered by a couple of gym employees who try to use it for blackmail. Quickly the analyst's wife is involved as well as her lover, the lover's wife, the lover's wife's lover, the lover's lover, the lover's lover's boss, and of course, the Russians.
Pity PartyThe best thing about this film is not it's story. It is clearly a character piece. Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand's characters are stupid, vain, and somehow terribly positive. George Clooney's character is neurotic and sleezy. Tilda Swinton plays the cold-hearted witch. And John Malkovich plays John Malkovich (as per usual). And with all these wonderful awful character who is the audience to identify with, who is pulling them along? Honestly, I don't think there is anyone that the "typical" audience member can identify with (or at least non that they would want to). The closest any of the main storyline characters come is the gym's manager. He is sad, and lonely, and simply doesn't have the luck he maybe deserves. But even in his case, the audience simply pities him.
So how could you possibly watch something where every character is deplorable? For one, the movie is framed with discussions in the CIA. Several agents try to sort through the ridiculous events, completely oblivious to the underlying motivations of the characters. While they are completely unimportant to the plot of the film, they serve as the characters that the audience connect with. They are smart, and completely confused by the situation.
Somehow the Cohen brothers can create a film that is hilarious and overall enjoyable, when you really don't care what happens to the characters.