Review: Burn After Reading

With a colder, cloudy, blustery day on tap, I decided to take in the new Coen brothers movie, Burn After Reading, at the local cinema. For those who don’t care to wade through the rest of this review, my verdict is: wait for it on DVD.
After paying my $15, I settled into my seat, put in my earplugs as a defense against the teeth-rattling volume, and endured the plague of 20 commercials that led up to the film (the commercials starting at the advertised show time). With a cast including Clooney, Pitt, McDormand, and Malkovich, my hopes were high that the Coens’ take on the CIA would be fun.
And it was fun seeing all of the D.C. locations that I know so well; better still, the scenes were shot during a lovely fall last year. I give nothing away by saying that the story involves multiple couples, CIA analysts, State Department security, adultery galore, Internet dating, Russians, and the Coens’ signature mistaken identities leading to violent mistakes. The plot was full of twists and sardonic humor and the actors did their best with the material given them.
However, the story just wasn’t that interesting nor was it very funny. There were a few lines and a few situations that drew some chuckles out of the thinking members of the audience but, overall, this one is not funny enough to match Fargo, nor dark enough to rival No Country For Old Men.
No writer or director hits home runs on every outing and Burn After Reading will just go into the Coens’ “mildy interesting” column rather than adding another tick to their column of formidable successes. So it goes. But I’m still a Coen brothers fan and now I’m waiting for their next movie.

One thought on “Review: Burn After Reading

  • Fifteen dollars for a movie? Ouch. We enjoyed this one on Friday at
    Ballston Common Mall. We had a couple of passes, but I think regular
    admissions are still under ten bucks.

    Ads were playing as we walked in, just before showtime, and the feature
    began as usual within ten or fifteen minutes. As you probably are
    aware, cinema ads have higher production values than those made-for-TV,
    along the lines of the BMW Films series. But the repeated reminders to
    silence cell phones and the dated popcorn and snack ads are still

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