Thursday, February 19, 2009

Movie Journal: Burn After Reading

There are two things you should immediately know about the Cohen Brothers' new "comedy". Firstly, it is not a kid movie. And all that that entails. The language is foul, the sex and innuendo is rampant, and the violence(what there is of it) is shocking. Secondly, it's not really funny. At least, not in the sense you are probably thinking it is.

To elaborate: as a film it may have distinct and colorful characters, some of which actually do behave pretty funny. But don't expect it to be anything like so many other wacky and chaotic comedies, where the jokes are innocent and despite all the chaos everything seems to miraculously work out in the end.

If anything, it's my belief that Burn After Reading is a movie about idiocy. More precisely, the complete failure to consider the consequences of the actions you take. The story picks up as an employee of the CIA is more or less fired. It's at this point that the man begins to experience what many of us know to be something along the lines of a mid-life crisis. He feels the world has passed him by, and yearns for the virtuous and patriotic passion of his youth. Feeling nostalgic and without much purpose, he decides to write a memoir of the experiences of his much-missed youth. Namely of his experiences in the CIA. Little does he suspect that these memoirs may be found and read by someone else, and just what that would mean.

Much of the rest of the movie revolves around a main cast of stupid yet empathetical characters, making stupid yet(much of the time) empathetical decisions. It's kind of painful really, because as an attentive viewer it's rather hard to miss the writing on the wall, and you sort of wish you could just yell out to the main characters just what they are doing to themselves. You know that should the spaghetti hit the fan(and it will), things are not going to look good(and they don't).

In the end, it's a fine movie, if a flawed one in parts. Just the kind of crazy episode of insanity you'd expect from the Cohen Brothers, though one not nearly as satisfying as that of some of their other works, such as Raising Arizona, O Brother Where Art Thou?, and No Country For Old Men. I guess I was just expecting something a little more.

7 out of 10

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