Burn After Reading

This movie left me wondering what had happened but not really caring enough to really want to know. In fact, I think I feel the same way that JK Simmons’ “CIA Superior” character felt during the film. The crux the movie, other than that all of the characters are idiots, is the Coen’s placement of some of their most Looney Tunes-like characters yet against one of their more realistic and dark backdrops. The juxtaposition is jarring and unsettling, and I imagine is meant to give the viewer as little remorse as possible for the idiotic characters. The audience we saw the film with did not enjoy it at all. They engaged in a temporary community based around lamenting the time they lost to the film. Most movie watchers don’t like it when they don’t get their “treat” at the end of the film, and this is not that kind of film. No Country For Old Men was not that kind of film either, and I heard similar complaints. The other thing that this movie has in common with No Country is it’s startling, gory violence. I think the Coens use both of these elements to great effect, and perhaps only hear people complain about them because I live in a big retirement community for rich white people. All of this sounds negative, but the film was actually great. Funny, fun to watch and resonant in a weird, hollow way. I really like this quote about it from The Hollywood Reporter, who said that it’s “really an anti-spy thriller in which nothing is at stake, no one acts with intelligence and everything ends badly.” 4/5

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