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*** Official BURN AFTER READING Review Thread (1 Viewer)


Supporting Actor
May 19, 2001
Real Name
Bob Lindstrom
I just got back from a private screening over at Universal. I thought the movie was brilliant, one of the Coens' best. A great ensemble piece with superb performances from everyone involved. Pitt is hilarious.

In some ways, it felt to me like a spiritual sequel to "Blood Simple" in that the drama turns on a group of people who react and respond because no one of them really knows what is going on. However, the setting and situations are VERY different.

Unlike so many current films, you never quite know where this one is going to go, and there are a few big surprises and even bigger laughs, including what I think is one of the funniest single shots in the history of motion pictures. (A hint: It involves Clooney's character destroying something.)

Nonetheless, it IS a Coen Brothers' film and I'm quite confident a large segment of the general audience will have a WTF? reaction. A number of film critics already have seemed to miss the point.

Robert Crawford

Senior HTF Member
Dec 9, 1998
Real Name
This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Burn After Reading". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.



Patrick Sun

Senior HTF Member
Jun 30, 1999
With many of the characters intersecting at cross purposes with imperfect information and leaps to various conclusions, "Burn After Reading"'s script does a good job of giving the cast good lines, situations and reactions (to situations) and produces a film that quietly picks up steam and never lags while never becoming predictable but comes to an overall ironical conclusion that might produce an overall satisfying laugh or applause from the audience.

The cast is uniformily good and up to the challenge that the Coens have set up for them (though I thought Tilda Swinton was a little under-used, but Brad Pitt steals practically every one of his scenes). The Coens continue to show their deftness for combining elements of dark humor and violence, eliciting shock and laughs from their audience, but never losing focus of the storyline.

I give it 3 stars, or a grade of B.


Jan 7, 2003
Real Name
3 stars or B sounds about right IMO. This is average to slightly-above average fare for the Coen brothers, but even Coen brothers average is way better than the average Hollywood drivel.

It moves along nicely and there are some hysterically funny moments.

That being said, almost every main character was way over the top, which I think detracted from the movie:
1) John Malkovich: he had a one-word vocabulary and one-dimensional personality that lead him to constantly yell and explode. Can we say axe?
2) Tilda Swinton: way too much of a b$tch. Surely Clooney wouldn't be attracted to such . . .
3) George Clooney: way too paranoid. Only CIA or those who work in covert intelligence are justly paranoid. But a Treasury agent? His basement contraption really added nothing to the movie. Loved him in Michael Clayton. Wasted here.
4) Brad Pitt: way too stupid, but definitely funny nonetheless.
5) Frances McDormand: way over the top but funny as well.

Don't buy the soundtrack. They played the same short theme over and over and over and over and over again.

The funniest parts of the movie were the conversations between the CIA officer (David Rasche) and the CIA chief (J. K. Simmons). Worth the price of admission, but only once. YMMV. All opinions expressed here are not necessarily my own, and they can be modified or retracted without warning.

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