After watching the Coen Brothers absorb years mowing their way through genres and upending conventions, one catechism comes to mind: Is there annihilation these guys can’t do. Common acumen suggests “no” and, afterwards acceptable Oscars aboriginal this year for No Country for Old Men, expectations accept gone
from bashful to high. However, those anticipating addition afire drama/thriller with Burn Afterwards Reading may be disappointed. The Coens, as is generally their style, accept adopted to go in addition direction. This is a abstruseness with a top caliber of comedic elements or, if you prefer, a ball with a top caliber of abstruseness elements. As is consistently the case with a assembly of Joel & Ethan, it’s difficult to classify, but that doesn’t accomplish it any beneath enjoyable.
The movie’s artifice involves so abounding accoutrement and contains so abounding intertwined layers
that it finer defeats any arbitrary with beneath than about 1000 words. So I’ll set the date and let the cine bare its own secrets. To the thudding bass of beating Carter Burwell score, the blur opens by aerial down from aloft into Langley and introducing us to C.I.A. abettor Osborne Cox (John Malkovich), who
is about to abdicate in lieu of getting demoted. This displeases his wife, Katie (Tilda Swinton), to no end. Meanwhile, her lover, ex-secret account abettor Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney), is aggravating to adjudge whether to appeal a annulment from his wife to be with Katie. Harry aswell has a affection for trolling the Internet for dates. That’s how he meets a gym artisan called Linda Litzke (France McDormand), who needs money for some corrective surgical procedures. With her accomplice, Chad (Brad Pitt), she abstracts out a way to get it: advertise leaked C.I.A. secrets to the Russians â€“ secrets that appear from a archetype of Osborne’s abstruse memoirs
The Coens, as is their way, accumulate axle it on, deepening the artifice and casting in some shocks that are all the added able because of the apathetic address in which they are delivered. (Remember Josh Brolin’s afterlife in No Country? It’s that array of thing.) The cine never takes itself seriously, with comedic moments broadcast about haphazardly. Some are alone amusing, some are clever, and some are absolute hilarious. Perhaps the three funniest scenes are a brace of conversations amid C.I.A. honchos played by David Rasche and J.K. Simmons, and a arena area George Clooney’s paranoia has him bug-eyed and abreast to flee.
By employing associates of their continued acting ancestors as able-bodied as accomplished “newcomers” to the Coen universe, Joel & Ethan ensure there’s not a anemic achievement to be found. George Clooney, who does his best plan for the Coens and Soderbergh, turns down the agreeableness and enhances the sleeze in a role that absolutely fits the clichÃ©d “cast adjoin type” description. Brad Pitt primps and poses as a claimed trainer who acceptable would be beneath absorbed in Angelina Jolie than her brother. Frances McDormand gets to do a little screwball plan alongside Clooney, Pitt, and Richard Jenkins. Tilda Swinton acts
all ice bitchy, like she’s still beneath the access of her role in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. And John Malkovich does what John Malkovich does best – act awe-inspiring afore eventually accident it. All that’s missing from Act III is the copse chipper, and one suspects Malkovich’s appearance ability accept one
about on the premises.
The accent is a little like Fargo, although Burn Afterwards Reading isn’t as nuanced. As comedies go, it’s a audible cleft beneath Raising Arizona, The Hudsucker Proxy, and even Intolerable Cruelty. So, in the Brothers’ oeuvre, this would accept to be advised a accessory work, and it may attending even added bush in the deathwatch of No Country for Old Men. But if there’s one aphorism that have to be activated here, it’s that bottom Coen works are generally the according to above films by added directors. Burn Afterwards Reading acceptable won’t be a above Oscar adversary for 2009, but that doesn’t beggarly it won’t action a hell of a
acceptable time in theaters against the end of 2008.
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