Rumi Reviews: Burn After Reading

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Rumi Rating: 2/5 if you are sober 
                             4/5 if you are anything but sober 

The only question I had after sitting in confused dazed silence for 10 minutes after watching this movie was 'why?' Quickly followed by 'what was the point of that?' Followed even quicker by quickly looking around to gauge reactions and ask everyone I had watched with if they understood the movie. Because I didn't know whether to question my own intelligence/sense of humor for maybe not understanding the finer subtler points of the plot or to question the Coen brothers who directed the movie. 
Were beings of higher intelligence  around the world  excitedly walking out of the movie raving about how intelligent it was and smirking at people like me, people who just didn't get it? 

Or was I taking it too seriously? Maybe I shouldn't be looking for sub-plots or side stories, maybe I should just take it at face value and treat it like how we would treat a rom-com. Maybe my expectations for the genre and the star cast were altering my ability to treat the film as it should be treated. 

I stewed on it for a few weeks. I called friends, asked neighbors, harassed the librarian at the library, I searched the world wide web. 

 Ethan Coen compared Burn After Reading to the Allen Drury political novel Advise and Consent and called it "our version of a Tony Scott/Jason Bourne kind of movie, without the explosions." Joel Coen said they intended to create a spy movie because "we hadn't done one before," but he feels the final result was more of a character-driven movie than a spy story. Joel also said Burn After Reading was not meant to be a comment or satire on Washington D.C. 

O ok. Yeh I can kinda see that. This movie is the answer to all our questions when we watch James Bond or Jason Bourne and wonder what would happen if something went wrong or if the leads weren't uber sexual super smart men always one step ahead of the game. This movie would happen. 


The more I dug into the films depths, the more I started to understand the stage the Coen Brothers were laying, exhibiting their brand of humor and the films intent even before filming began - they wrote the sceenplay with specific actors in mind for a majority of the characters. 

  Burn After Reading is the third Coen brothers film for Clooney, who acknowledged that he usually plays a fool in their movies: "I've done three films with them and they call it my trilogy of idiots." Joel said after the last scene was shot, "George said: 'OK, I've played my last idiot!' So I guess he won't be working with us again."
Pitt, who plays a particularly unintelligent character, said of his role, "After reading the part, which they said was hand-written for myself, I was not sure if I should be flattered or insulted." 
Pitt also said when he was shown the script, he told the Coens he did not know how to play the part because the character was such an idiot: "There was a pause, and then Joel goes...'You'll be fine'.


Here's what Roger Ebert had to say about it:
'This is not a great Coen brothers' film. Nor is it one of their bewildering excursions off the deep end. It's funny, sometimes delightful, sometimes a little sad, with dialogue that sounds perfectly logical until you listen a little more carefully and realize all of these people are mad. The movie is only 96 minutes long. That's long enough for a movie, but this time, I dunno, I thought the end felt like it arrived a little arbitrarily. I must be wrong, because I can't figure out what could have followed next. Not even the device in the basement would have been around for another chapter.'

Basically guys - it's a fun movie. 
It's fun to watch such a star cast run around amok, not really knowing what they are doing - you know they all walked onto set, did exactly what the directors told them to do and didn't try to exert any grey matter in figuring in out. I suggest you do the same.  Don't try to decode the meaning of life with it, or try to understand why the characters chose to act in a certain way. Have a few drinks, sit back and laugh at the wide spread stupidity.  

I will say this though. The plot of the movie which rests on the noble shoulders of the stupidity of the characters is unerring in the fact that in this day and age, this story could very well jump from reel to real life and not miss a beat. 
That's scary. 

 15 Interesting Facts About The Movie

Another Baffled Reviewer