Burn After Reading

September 15, 2008 - Frances McDormand's desire to "have some work done" sets off a bizarre chain of events in this black comedy from the Coen brothers. George Clooney, John Malkovich and Brad Pitt also star along with some other recognizable faces.

As has become standard with the Coen brothers, the plot is rather convoluted. There are several stories happening at once and they're all intertwined. The central story belongs to Linda (McDormand). She works at a gym, wants a nip here and a tuck there, and is looking for some way to pay for it. When a computer disc with some seemingly sensitive information on it turns up at the gym, Linda and her co-worker, Chad (Pitt), think it might be their ticket to some fast cash.

Linda is also looking for love online. That's how she hooks up with a married but horny federal marshal named Harry (Clooney). Harry is being followed for reasons that are not revealed until the end of the film. Harry is also sleeping with the wife of a recently-fired CIA analyst named Osborne Cox (Malkovich). The disc that turns up at the gym contains the beginnings of Osborne's memoirs. When he refuses to play the blackmail game, the Russians get involved.

Overall review: **** For a movie that has multiple plot lines going, it still makes sense and is easy to follow. The actors all play their roles with a straight face. Everyone is in on the joke except them. And, that's what makes it so funny.