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8,290 Ratings

Burn After Reading

Directed by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
United States, 2008
Comedy, Crime, Drama


Two hapless individuals who work at a gym find a CD-ROM of a disgruntled former CIA agent’s memoirs and try to profit on their findings with disastrous results.

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Burn After Reading Directed by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Critics reviews

It’s a silly, often surprising farce, filled with typically Coen-esque duplicities and conspiracies. And it does have Brad Pitt playing a dumb-shit gym rat, so that’s something. (Joel and Ethan Coen are cinema’s great chroniclers of American stupidity.) But it’s also an example of how, sometimes, snowballing comic hysterics can deplete a film’s energy. A little of this stuff goes a long way, and this one, unlike many of the filmmakers’ other comedies, loses steam as the catastrophes mount.
February 05, 2016
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Burn After Reading is a film about containment and knowledge, or, to put it another way, a tale of wars against chaos. Necessarily, it is a farce. The Coen brothers’ films are sometimes criticized as nihilistic. They are only nihilistic, though, in the sense that Buddhism is nihilistic. The films are full of characters who quest for meaning and purpose, but they quest badly.
March 26, 2013
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