Amongst all the leave-your-mind-at-home-suspend-your-senses kind of movies that get hyped about, Burn After Reading is a movie that stands out not just because of its star cast (George Clooney, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich) but due to the fact that it is in fact a movie that is wickedly cruel, unapologetically dark in humor and takes a dig at the “intelligence” business. Written and Directed by the Coen brothers (The team behind No Country for Old Men), this is a slick movie with a look at what people do to further their own interests in a sense.
It all starts when Osbourn Cox (John Malkovich, in a role that he must have thoroughly enjoyed), a CIA agent quits his job on being reassigned to a lower ranking post and decides to write a memoir detailing his experiences working in the CIA. Unhappy at the prospect that she would have to support Cox and the fact that she is already having an affair with Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney) tips Katie Cox (Tilda Swinton) to file for divorce. Dumping all data from Cox’s computer for financials to support her divorce, the memoirs also get uploaded and this disk falls into the hands of 2 gym employees, Chad (Brad Pitt, in a crazy hairdo) and Linda (Frances McDormand). The unpredictability starts when they decide to blackmail Osbourn Cox. Things take a thoroughly strange turn and the CIA also gets involved as things take a dark turn. Anyone who has watched “No Country for Old Men” wouldn’t be surprised by the shocking but albeit brief scenes of violence that erupt and predictably, things dont end well for most of the characters involved.
Performances from the cast have been exemplary. Brad Pitt truly shines in a goofy role as Chad, the gym employee who tries to make a quick killing. His attempt to blackmail Osbourn Cox is one of the truly funniest moments of the movie. His-trying-to-look-menacing tone of saying “Osbourn Cox” is truly hilarious as is crazy hairdo and his reaction when he views the contents of the CD. Frances McDormand fits in a role that sees her searching for a soul mate and wants the money to undergo a cosmetic surgery procedure. Her performance as the woman obsessed with undergoing the procedure is highly believable. George Clooney plays the womanizer perfectly, first with Tilda Swinton and then with Frances McDormand. The star of the show is undoubtedly John Malkovich. Abusive, with a limited patience and a quick temper, he steals the show. A note should be made to the cameo played by JK Simmons (person who plays Jonah J Jameson in the Spiderman movie) who is the CIA superior.
A very quirky movie with a dark twist, Burn After Reading is undoubtedly one of those movies that leaves you shaking your head afterwards.
PS: With all due respect, my staple diet of movies are leave-your-brain-at-home movies