Thursday, February 10, 2011

Burn After Reading

Rating : 7/10
Release Date : September, 2008
Time : 96 minutes
Directors & Writers : Joel & Ethan Coen; Music : Carter Burwell
Starring : John Malkovich, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, JK Simmons

This is a film that pokes fun at the average American IQ, their mannerisms and obsessions with wit typical of the Coen brothers. It does all this in a subtle way, creating this fantastical story about intelligence spooks and gym instructors but at the end of the day, the scary thought is that it could actually happen in the land that gave us the Iraq War and its fictional WMD

John Malkovich is the CIA’s Balkan’s analyst who is suddenly put to pasture (“Drinking problem ? But you’re a fucking Mormon, next to you everyone has a drinking problem?!!). His agitated response is to quit (“I’m thinking of writing my memoirs”) and this move doesn’t go down well at all with his ball-busting, straight talking wife, Tilda Swinton, who loses no time in seeing a divorce lawyer, one of the smarmy kinds who only specialize in making a bad situation worse, and her lover, George Clooney, for a more permanent arrangement. George, a US Marshall, has only two pastimes. Running. And sleeping with women (including, very occasionally, his wife). Enter two gym instructors, Frances (who only cares about the four cosmetic surgeries she wants but cant afford) and Brad Pitt (hilarious portrayal of classic American toy boy, into exercising, biking, music but with an IQ of sub zero proportions). They discover a copy of John’s memoirs and smell a chance to make money. What follows is a tribute to US Intelligence, both the governmental and the other kind…

The understated humour is what makes this film come alive for me. Whether its Frances trying to get her insurance company to pay for her cosmetic surgery to George Clooney’s food allergies, need to run and feeling that he’s being followed (is he ?), John Malkovich’s angst, and Tilda's changing the locks, its all brilliantly done. When the CIA does get involved, their responses too are classic

The performances are exceptional, Clooney, Malkovich, Frances, Pitt, Swinton, all live and breathe their parts. Malkovich striding out with an axe dressed only in his boxers and bathrobe, Frances in action at the Russian embassy, Clooney making the gagging sounds to illustrate his food reflux, Brad Pitt’s surprise on being hit on the nose, Tilda’s inability to listen beyond the fact that her husband did not buy the cheese…excellent ! Even the cameos were great with JK Simmons (the CIA head honcho) on the learning for his organisation after the episode, the Mexican worker who actually found the memoirs, Richard Jenkins, who heads the gym and wants the entire episode to go away. Everyone gave it their all.

This film has grown on me – I didn’t have such a positive reaction immediately after watching it. I long for such subtlety in our films. However, based on the current crop of films succeeding, its going to be a while before we as an audience are ready for it…


Anonymous said...

This movie was HILARIOUS.
I love black comedies.

Anonymous said...

The average man does not know what to do with his life, yet wants another one which will last forever.