Burn after reading
Cast : George Clooney, Frances McDormand
Direction : Joel and Ethan Coen
Rating : ***&1/2
It’s sassy, stylish and often darkly hilarious. The Coen brothers follow up their 2007 Oscar triumph No Country for Old Men (still not been released here) with this farcical thriller set in the corridors of power of Washington DC. An amazing A-list ensemble has been assembled to portray a bunch of bumbling buffoons. The outcome is quite a witty romp.
The dismissal of an alcoholic CIA analyst (John Malkovich in rip-roaring form) catalyses a chain of events which spiral out of control. Currently working on a tell-all memoir, the ex-agent also has to contend with a wife (Tilda Swinton in super-shrewish mode) who intends to divorce him. Worse, the compact disk containing his personal jottings winds up in the hands of two dim-witted fitness trainers (McDormand-Brad Pitt).
The duo’s paths collide with Russian government officials as well as a serial adulterer (Clooney, disappointingly vapid). The light-hearted plot now veers into a violent nightmare.
Carter Burwell’s rousing background music score and the snappy editing by the Coens themselves (they use a pseudonym Roderick Jaynes) are just two of the technical assets.
Frances McDormand displays a wonderful sense of comic timing.The show, however, is dominated by Brad Pitt. Sporting a silly coiffure, he sends up his sex symbol persona with great gusto.
Burn After Reading may not rank among the Coens’ best efforts such as Fargo, Miller’s Crossing or The Big Lebowski. Still, the black comedy is a breezy 95-minute entertainer. Enjoy.