Burn After Reading | Teen Ink

Burn After Reading MAG

September 21, 2008
By karen_xo PLATINUM, West Chester, Pennsylvania
karen_xo PLATINUM, West Chester, Pennsylvania
48 articles 7 photos 29 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working."
— Pablo Picasso

Murder, blackmail, espionage – and this is a comedy? But “Burn After Reading,” the Coen brothers’ latest film, is hilarious. Joel and Ethan Coen, who directed the movie and wrote the screenplay, have created an ensemble of wacky, egocentric characters whose worlds collide with disastrous results after a computer disk falls into the wrong hands.

Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt) and Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) are clueless, greedy gym employees who find the disk containing personal and ­financial files of Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich), a CIA analyst who quits his job after ­being demoted. Linda and Chad are sure the data is top-secret government information, and since Linda needs money for cosmetic surgery, they ­decide to blackmail Osbourne.

Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney) gets tangled up in the mess too. He’s involved with Osbourne’s wife (Tilda Swinton) and Linda – and he’s married.

“Burn After Reading” may initially appear to be a lighthearted comedy, but, as Chad puts it, “appearances can be … deceptive.” The Coen brothers wrote the screenplay while they were writing “No Country for Old Men.” In both movies, the deaths of innocent people are not taken very seriously, and there are no consequences for the killers; so the ending of “Burn After Reading” is unsettling for me.

Why is this movie doing so well at the box office? The ­answer is simple: big names. I admit that my main reason for seeing it was that it was done by the Coen brothers. As for the actors, I don’t think the characters would have been as amusing if they hadn’t been played by A-list celebrities; at least Chad (the funniest, in my opinion) wouldn’t have been
as funny. He is the epitome of ­idiocy and artlessness, and yet, audiences love him, because he’s Brad Pitt.

Overall, it was the quirky personalities of the characters and the talent of the actors who portrayed them that gave this movie its distinctive quality

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This article has 3 comments.

mimi:) said...
on May. 24 2009 at 8:28 pm
this movie was hallarious!!! it had me laughing since it began to the end!!! and brad pitt was a hottie in the movie!!!

Karen said...
on Dec. 10 2008 at 9:11 pm
"If there had been one honest person in the tangled web of events, things may have come out differently."

This means that the plot would have changed if the characters were different. So the movie is about the characters.

BWI said...
on Dec. 10 2008 at 8:16 pm
Personally, I don't think it was entirely the characters that made the movie, but the absurdity of the plot. Essentially, nothing made sense and everyone that died did so because of misconceptions. If there had been one honest person in the tangled web of events, things may have come out differently. But we see here how human deception not only backfires, but completely explodes. We are tripped up by our own self-interest, even the CIA reveals their incompetence when they simply shut the stories and dump the bodies.