Being a Brad Pitt fan I am constantly on the look-out for any movie featuring him to be released so that I can lay my hands on a copy of the same and watch it as soon as is humanly possible. So while I was waiting for a good print of ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ to be made available, I happened to come across this quirky movie ‘Burn After Reading’ featuring Brad Pitt in a cameo. I use the word ‘cameo’ because as is the norm, Pitt is not the protagonist in this story, but he still plays a reasonably pivotal role in the same.
Apart from the fact that this movie starred more than just a few A-list stars of Hollywood such as George Clooney, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton and Brad Pitt, the fact that it was made by the Coen brothers (whose immediate movie before this one was the Oscar winning ‘No Country for Old Men’) made me doubly enthusiastic about watching this movie. Early teaser reviews and previews seemed to suggest that this movie was a firmly ‘tongue-in-cheek’ look at the ways and methods used by CIA and other contemporary espionage agencies to carry out their skullduggery. While the movie itself did not deal with too much of spy-stuff, it was so ‘ridiculuously hilarious’ (probably the most apt term to describe it) that it was well worth the time and effort spent on it.
Picture this, John Malkovich as a CIA Analyst who is fired because of a drinking problem, his wife Tilda Swinton who is having an affair with George Clooney, a womanizing Treasury agent, Clooney’s wife who is also cheating on him, Frances McDormand a gym employee who desperately needs money for liposuction and facial reconstructive surgery, Brad Pitt her co-worker who wants to help her. Put in all these characters in the mix with all these actors, add a generous dose of tongue-in-cheek humor and a dashing of a fast-paced screenplay, and lo and behold you have ‘Burn after reading’.
Malkovich begins work on his memoirs soon after he is fired which inadvertently ends up in Pitt’s hands (courtesy a small mistake of the law firm which Swinton has hired to get her divorce). Pitt intuitively guesses that this data is sensitive, and then shows the same to McDormand who comes up with the idea of blackmailing Malkovich to get some money for her surgery. When Malkovich refuses to pay up, Pitt and McDormand end up surrendering the memoirs to the Russian Embassy (of all the people). In the middle of all this, McDormand and Clooney meet up courtesy an online dating service and hook up with each other. What ensues is a hilarious game of cat and mouse following the so-called ‘memoirs’ which in reality are nothing more than Malkovich’s frustrated scribblings across these characters.
I am not game in giving away the movie’s ending as it would pretty much spoil all the fun in watching the movie itself. In any case, suffice to say that you will end up laughing more than you anticipated as the movie progresses. In my opinion, this probably ranks as one of the funniest movies I have ever watched, albeit in the genre of ‘black humor’ as it is somewhat cruel to some of its characters in funny ways.