Burn After Reading movie review: Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich), a Balkan expert, is fired at the CIA, so he begins a memoir. His wife Linda (Tilda Swinton) wants a divorce and expects her lover, Harry (George Clooney), a philandering State Department marshal, to leave his wife. A diskette falls out of a gym bag at a Georgetown fitness center. Two employees there try to turn it into cash: Linda, who wants money for elective surgery, and Chad (Brad Pitt) , an amiable goof. Information on the disc leads them to Osbourne who rejects their sales pitch; then they visit the Russian embassy. To sweeten the pot, they decide they need more of Osbourne's secrets. Meanwhile, Linda's boss (Richard Jenkins) likes her, and Harry's wife leaves for a book tour. All roads lead to Osbourne's house.
Big questions: Can Joel and Ethan Coen come close to the greatness that was their Best Picture-winning “No Country for Old Men”? Or do they just want to revisit the dark humor of stuff like “The Big Lebowski”?
Catch it: If the Apatow crowd can get a bunch of friends together and screw around onscreen then so can the Coen brothers, who aim to make “Burn After Reading” a goofy movie with great actors playing good, strange characters. When it’s funny, it’s really funny, with the biggest joke of all that a complex governmental ordeal doesn’t add up to anything when everyone involved is clueless and in over their heads.
Skip it: If you think infidelity is easy. Linda learns that some cheating guys are careless enough to leave in their wallet their wife’s list of things to pick up at the store. Of course, he probably didn’t expect that his one-night stand would be looking through the wallet.
Bottom line: The Coens can certainly do better than “Burn After Reading,” which compulsively devolves into violent behavior and fails to focus on any characters for long enough to really take sides or sympathize with anyone. But this tale of internal “intelligence” that’s not intelligent at all boasts perfect, hysterical performances (particularly from Pitt, Clooney and Jenkins). It may not rise above its aspirations, but it certainly meets them. Source: Metromix
Box Office: In its opening weekend, the film grossed $19.1 million in 2,651 theaters in the United States and Canada, ranking number one at the box office.As of July, 2009, it has grossed $60.3 million in the United States and Canada and $100.8 million in other countries adding up to $161.1 million worldwide gross.