Burn After Reading Movie Review
BURN AFTER READING: NOT AS FUNNY AS IT THINKS
With a stellar cast and critically acclaimed directors the Coen brothers, Burn After Reading had the makings of a great film. But instead of being well acted and witty, it is very slow in getting to the point and patronizing.
Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich) has quit his job at the CIA after he is told that he is being demoted. Unbeknownst to him, his wife Katie (Tilda Swinton) is cheating on him with Harry (George Clooney), a boob of a man who also works for the CIA. Osbourne is at a crossroads. He decides to write his memoir. Katie accidentally burns his memoir on a CD along with their financial statements. When it comes into the hands of two gym employees, they decide to bribe Osbourne into giving them money for the CD. Chaos ensues with events spinning everybody's lives out of control.
The Coen brothers are known for their dry sense of humor. They always have stories that have inside jokes. This plot is no exception. It has some witty dialogue but it turns absurd more than too many times. The story strings you along to where all interest is gone. The casting should have been spot on. George Clooney is hilariously twitchy as Katie Cox's lover. His wild eyes and secret invention will take you by surprise. Frances McDormand has her moments, especially when she is trying to convince her insurance carrier to cover her plastic surgery. John Malkovich is just plain scary as Cox. His moment of eruption will take you out of the movie and not in a positive way. And then there is Tilda Swinton. She has been praised on more than one occasion for her performances. But what I see is an actress that is devoid of emotion in every role that she does. As Katie the cheating wife there is no difference. A smile never crosses her face. It is as if she has pumped full of Botox and one crack will make her head explode. The movie is set in Washington D.C. which makes sense with the political theme of the plot. The locale is most notable during the park scenes when Harry is meeting his blind dates and when he is running along a bridge with Capitol Hill in the background.
The length of the film is only 100 minutes. But with the slow pacing and lack of getting to the point it felt more like 3 hours.
Burn After Reading is a let down in many ways. It has a cast that is known for its talent and doesn't take full advantage. The storyline has some funny moments but not enough to keep it going. George Clooney is the only bright spot in an otherwise waste of time.