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Burn After Reading

Burn After Reading

Total Film

February 2009

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Director Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Starring George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich
Cert 15

Film *** Extras **

“It’s our Tony Scott/Bourne Identity kind of movie,” Ethan Coen murmurs in doc ‘Finding The Burn’. “Without the explosions.”

If this is Hollywood’s big-bang king and Damon’s spy franchise as refracted through the Brothers Whim, we’re dying to see their take on the superhero…

George Clooney sums Burn After Reading up more pithily when he brands it “a comedy about some shockingly dumb people in Washington.” That about nails it: this forlorn band of bed-hopping idiots rummage through a soufflé-light plot rotating around a mislaid CIA disc.

If Burn feels like the Coens in cruise control after No Country For Old Men, at least it trounces its cousins Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers. As for the showboating leads, Pitt amuses, Clooney gurns, McDormand crinkles and Malkovich steals the show. But those waggish sibs, they do like to tease… no sooner have you settled contentedly into Burn’s easy comic rhythms than they inject a sour note into proceedings, signalling the film’s decline.

And how’s this for another swizz? Take one wafer-thin Making Of, split it into thirds and – presto! – three clickable extras under your Bonus menu. What do they think we are, a league of morons?

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