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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Burn after Reading- Talented cast but dragging story line

Last Friday afternoon, I went to see the highly talked about new film Burn After Reading. What motivated me to see this film were two things: the talented cast, featuring John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, and Brad Pitt, and the story line. The plot of the movie revolves around recently fired CIA agent Osborne Cox who loses a disk of his memoirs. His memoirs end up found at a gym by two ditzy gym employees, “Chad”, played by Brad Pitt, and “Linda Litzke”, played by Frances McDormand. While the actors in this film try their hardest to bring life into their characters, unfortunately the sequence of events in the film go on too long.

John Malkovich, who stars as Osborne Cox, is powerful and funny in his role as a man who has just lost his job, yet is trying to move forward with his life, by deciding to write a memoir. Osborne is also dealing with a possessive wife, played well by actress Tilda Swinton. Malkovich brings a fiery intensity to the film. As the events of the film lead up to Osborne’s memoir disk being lost then found, you see the character start to unravel. A great scene showing this was when Osborne confronts Chad, the gym employee, who along with Linda Litzke, is working a blackmail scheme on him. If Osborne pays Chad and Linda a certain amount of money, they will give up the disk. Sensing that Chad is a phony professional when they meet, Osborne loses his cool and punches Chad in the face.

This scene will bring laughs, because it’s not clear to Chad how much nonsense he is in, until Osborne plainly calls him a moron. A scene showcasing the power of Osborne’s character comes when he has to break into his old home, which he ends up getting put out of ( his wife serves him divorce papers). When Osborne calls his ex-wife, demanding to be let in so he can further investigate finding his lost disk, he says, “I have my own key”. His “key”, in reality is a sledgehammer, which he uses to break the lock. When you see Malkovich in this scene you clearly see a man who has lost control, and doesn’t know who to trust or believe anymore.

Brad Pitt, playing half of the ditzy gym duo, made me forget that in real life he is a 40 something year old man with six children: he appears so youthful and energetic as Chad. It was nice to see Pitt playing this comedic role and letting us see a human side to the whole blackmail scheme. The human side came in the form of curiosity. Pitt’s character Chad, when he first finds out about the lost disk, opens it and is filled with wonder about all this secret information on it. I saw a bit of myself in this character trait of Chad’s: wanting to find out more about something, but also being a bit scared of what actually it all entails. Pitt brings an excitement to this character and also makes you feel that you are his friend by his team spirit “lets go get it”!! attitude, enthusiasm. Speaking of this kinship, I really enjoyed seeing the friendship between Chad and Linda Litske. You felt warmness there and camaraderie despite the fact they were committing a major crime and doing blackmail.

Frances McDormand, playing Linda Litske, was a bit over the top for me. Linda’s character had nervous, jittery traits. It seemed to be more of a focus on these traits. Linda Litske is a woman who desperately wants plastic surgery and also wants love. As a woman, I can relate to wanting to improve myself. However if I came to my boss, as Linda did in the movie and cried everyday about it, he might just send me to a therapist. I think McDormand tried to put energy into her character, but im not sure if it was all balanced. Still, I can’t knock her for putting life into the character of Linda, and also letting us see how much trouble one can get into when you don’t do
things the right way.

Overall, Burn After Reading, was not a bad film. I felt George Clooney was misused in his role as Harry; too much frantic energy displayed (plus, Clooney is a man who adds charm to his roles, with Harry he had to be a little rough, which is not Clooney’s forte). In summary, this movie will give you some laughs; make you appreciate life, and also true friendship. I wish that the chain of events could have been more concise. After a while the plot seemed to drag on, and you just want Osborne to get his disk so characters can stop getting killed. The good thing about the ending though, is that it made you think that a part two of the story was on the way. This would be fine by me!

1 comment:

The Leaves of Tarkong said...

oh my!this is such a great film blog!!!! love it!!!i was expecting the film to be really really great! anyway, im bout to watch it this weekend... by the way, social spark friend here :)