25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
What did we learn ?,
This review is from: Burn After Reading [DVD] (DVD)There's an awful lot of 1 star reviews on here for this - seems a bit harsh to me. Of course the Coens are always going to annoy some people - they are a bit smart-arsey and their habit of leaving out certain scenes which could be construed as being `integral' to the plot is a long-standing joke of theirs which they obviously find very funny. They were even at it in `No Country', which was finally their major breakthrough to the mainstream - the shoot-out between Moss and the Mexicans? But I'm a long-time fan and despite the occasional stinker (`Intolerable Cruelty' and `The Ladykillers'), they've made me laugh more than just about anybody else over the last 30 years, so I'll stick with them.
So how do they follow up the commercial and artistic success of `No Country`? With a film about a bunch of selfish, bungling middle-aged losers making a mess of their and everybody else's lives, that's how. If there's a common theme to the Coens films' then it's `nobody knows anything', and never was that truer than here. This is their take on the spy genre, the `Bourne' films and others of that ilk; but instead of being full of smart, dangerous killers there's just a bunch of useless idiots constantly cocking-up and jumping to the wrong conclusions: the results, however, can be just as fatal. Nobody is as harsh on the consequences of stupidity as the Coens.
I'm not crazy about George Clooney doing comedy, it seems to me he relies too much on mugging and pulling `funny' faces; apart from him, however, the performances are uniformly excellent. John Malkovich is wonderfully irascible and Tilda Swinton splendidly unpleasant as Mr and Mrs Cox (not a name, you feel, that was chosen by accident). Brad Pitt is perfect as the dozy air-head Chad and has a couple of great moments; his dance after the first phone-call to Cox and his attempt to assume a `threatening' expression during the conversation with Cox in the car are hilarious. Frances McDormand is as good as ever and, if that's her body in the opening scene, is a damn good sport as well (I suppose it helps having your husband as the director).
I don't think it's one of their best but, lest we forget, `Lebowski' was greeted with widespread derision on its release so maybe this will be a sleeper like that. I enjoyed it - come on, it's worth more than 1 star surely?