Monday, September 15, 2008

Movie: Burn After Reading

Laura and I snuck off to a movie today: Burn After Reading. She enjoyed it much more than I did, though I didn't actively hate it. It was totally not the movie I expected from the trailer. The trailer makes it look a bit like a wacky comedy, and completely glosses over its extreme Coen-Brothers-ness. It's a very dark comedy, and I really think most of the comedy comes from the trailer -- from the fact that you're expecting comedy, so you see it. And Brad Pitt is genuinely funny; he alone of all the cast doesn't seem like he's taking himself too seriously, and his doltish character's low-grade slapstick makes the movie watchable.

I found the movie oddly distasteful, in truth. We don't get a hero in the picture; the story moves along on the backs of selfish jerks and selfish philanderers, with no characters whose heads I could really comfortably slide into. Sure, you feel pity and sympathy for them -- for most of them, at one time or another. But I didn't really respect any of them, I didn't actually like any of them, and the movie they make together is a dark pit of loathing and paranoia. I can't really say much more about the film without venturing into spoiler territory, but I will mention that the movie doesn't finish, as much as it grinds to a halt and rolls credits. If you're a Coen Brothers fan, give it a try; it's got Coen all over it. If you're expecting a vaguely slapstick comedy, look elsewhere. But if you're in the mood for a bleakly dark movie with a few funny moments, you might give it a try....

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