Maybe this is the first time I've ever gone to the cinema to see a film that has really only just been released? I think four or five days after the initial release is a pretty good amount of time, and the cinema screen was still practically empty (because all the tiddlywinks wanted to go and see High School Musical - shudder).
Lets get straight to the point: Burn After Reading is as strange and oddly protracted as any Coen Brothers' movie, and still has a very dark thread running through it. After all, they don't really hold anything back do they? The story follows how the secret documents of sacked CIA man Osmond Cox (John Malkovich) are lost by an incompetent secretary at a gym and are found by two employees there (Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt). In the mean time Cox's wife (Tilda Swinton) is having an affair with their friend Harry (George Clooney) and things start to get.... complicated.
Well, there's lots of paranoia involved, particularly from Clooney, and just general stupidity, particularly from Pitt. The voice that he puts on to essentially blackmail Cox, for instance, is idiotically contrived and I had to stop myself from laughing at the incompetency - no wonder he gets punched in the face. And worse, but I'll not give it away.
There are some hilarious moments as with all of the Coens' less serious movies. Let's put it this way: you just have to see Clooney's home-made chair to believe it. Then there's the scene that I've colourfully called "the chopping of the carrots" and the whole way that Pitt acts in the movie - I can't believe that he didn't know that his character was gay when he was acting it out.
When we finally get to the climax you wonder how everything will be resolved. There isn't a definitive twist, as such, but there is a rather weird final scene. I can't give it away. But it's certainly not as thoughtful as the last little sequence in Fargo - in fact, you have to wonder about the morality of the whole thing. But it's pretty funny.
It's true that it isn't as good as Fargo or even the Big Lebowski, but it's still distinctly a Coen movie, and it's still got all the twisted, juicy elements that you would expect - probably isn't good enough for the Oscars like No Country For Old Men but definitely deserves some good recognition. Can more people go to see it before it tumbles into obscurity in the face of all the tween movies that are being paraded at the minute? Please?