Burn After Reading Review

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by Ian Phillips ’10

“Burn After Reading” is in every way a Coen Brothers movie. After 24 years of filmmaking, the so-called “Two-Headed Director” haven’t lost their touch for making incredibly shocking and original films.

The less intelligent minds focused on in this film are the brain dead fitness instructor Chad Feldheimer (scene-stealing Brad Pitt) and his co-worker Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) at a D.C. gym. They stumble upon a CD filled with files that may be the work of Osbourne Cox (the always bizarre John Malkovich); a man just kicked out of the CIA who now wants to write a memoir.

Believing the disc is valuable, Chad decides to return it to Cox in hopes of reward money and Linda joins in, desperate for cash to pay for her plastic surgeries in a goal to reinvent herself. It seems like a perfect plan, but it turns out the files are totally useless.
“Burn After Reading” is Marx Brothers humor laced with a Maltese Falcon like conclusion. All this, put together with the Coen Brothers thoughts on the stupidity of humanity, the dangers of miscommunication, fate and freewill, and the idea that people think they can handle everything but actually have no idea what they’re doing.

In a changing world of cinema, the Coen Brothers continue to make movies the way they want to. “Burn” might not earn the Oscars of “No Country” but for stark originality, unpredictability, and great entertainment it will earn a spot on the list of the year’s best films.

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