I was made to watch this film under the instruction of some unspeakable who, it should be known, adores Brad Pitt and the Coen Brothers. I’ve got to say though, he wasn’t wrong about it – it’s hilarious. But not in a kind of ‘here’s a joke, laugh at it way’, it’s far more subtle than that. Well, I say subtle when you could easily fight back with the argument that Brad Pitt often acts like a complete idiot in it when he’s dancing and trying to get a reward from Osbourne Cox ie. John Malkovich who, by the way (and don’t even argue), is one of the greatest actors to ever walk this earth. Take Con Air and, yes I’m saying this: Johnny English as prime example. He’s just brilliant in all the characters he plays. And especially in this film. For Burn After Reading, Malkovich portrays an educated man, recently deprived of his job and takes it upon himself to write a book about his memoirs to try to earn some more money. The film unravels and (don’t worry, no spoilers…I think) his wife is having an affair with George Clooney who’s married to this children’s writer. How Brad Pitt is connected is that Malkovich’s wife goes to the gym that Pitt works at with this woman, Linda and by accident she leaves some of Malkovich’s documents on a disc in the gym. Pitt and Linda find it and think it’s something highly important and they take it to the Russin embassy thinking they can get something for it. This is after they contact Malkovich to tell him that they ‘have his shit’. Consequently, Pitt ends up in Malkovich’s house where the wife and Clooney are having the affair. It’s a pretty complicated narrative but it’s easy to understand as you’re watching it. It’s just that I’m terrible at making things sound simple…
But anyway, I think I should point out that I’ve probably not enlightened you to the plot of the film at all, but I would highly recommend it anyway. I thought it was very interesting to watch the relationships develop…I suppose it’s like a funnier, more clever version of Closer but on a bigger scale with more characters. But if you’re a fan of any kind of film where there are affairs, or even if people having affairs and trying to get more out of life turns you on, then you should definitely watch it.
Here’s a nice funny clip from the film which I think sums it up and the characters of Pitt and Malkovich entirely: