Burn After Reading
Might contain spoilers.
I started on the 1st of January, 2022. I couldn’t get back to it for a while, but it was worth the wait. This movie is just as great as I remember. It’s possibly Brad Pitt’s best performance. I couldn’t stop laughing at every last detail. The music never winks at the audience: it skillfully defines the tone of the story by borrowing the style of the genre but not mocking it.
I once read that the Coen brothers discourage improvisation, if not outright forbid it. After watching Burn After Reading, you understand why. It’s written, directed, shot, and edited with an inhuman level of detail. Every breath and every word is crucial. Every glance exists because it’s a critical part of the story. The hilarious repetition in the screenplay and even at the level of the dialogue makes the movie.
I think another one of the secrets to its effectiveness is how little the characters interact. It’s easy to believe their confusion and obliviousness. Everyone operates in their own little spheres and knows only what’s happening there.
It’s interesting to think this was just seven years after Brad Pitt and George Clooney’s turn in Ocean’s Eleven.