'Burn After Reading': The Coens Serve Up Laughs

Maui Time | September 11, 2008
Burn After Reading

The writing/directing team of Joel and Ethan Coen create a laugh-a-minute black comedy that pokes fun at America's surveillance-dominated existence, plastic surgery desires, and all out greed. Tilda Swinton plays Katie the adulterous wife of Osbourne Cox (played ferociously by John Malkovich in his best role in years). Cox is an ousted alcoholic CIA analyst intent on writing an explosive tell-all memoir who finds himself the target of a blackmailing scheme by gym trainer goofballs Linda (played by Francis McDormand) and Chad (played by Brad Pitt) after they find a disc with his memoir notes on it. Linda wants to pay for several cosmetic surgery procedures and indulges in an online dating bender that involves George Clooney's Harry, the same married guy Katie is planning to set up house with when she leaves Osbourne. If all this bed swapping seems confusing, it just adds to the comedy's non-stop spree of misrepresented intentions.

(Focus Features) Rated R. 96 mins. (B+)

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