Burn after Reading (2007) – [rate 3]
After No Country for Old Men, this definitely feels more like a ‘classic’ Coen-brothers production. The characters all seem to be confronted with situations that are outside their ability to deal with things. Greed leads otherwise innocent characters down a dark path of punishment, which I think is a recurring theme in their movies and everything is soaking in a fairly bleak humorous light.
The movie is structured like an action thriller would normally be structured and although the violence is pretty confronting and the music seems to suggest tension, the characters all seem to be involved in handling the situation at hand clumsily. You feel bad for almost everyone in the movie and at any time in the story, all of them would have been better off if they just went home and forgot about what they were trying to achieve.
The end result is very funny, if you appreciate it. I do and that’s where the movie scores its points. Casting is pretty good too and the movie looks impeccable like we’re used to from the Coens. Beyond that, I found the movie wasn’t as funny as The Big Lebowski (1998) or the Hudsucker Proxy (1994), not as grand as O Brother Where art Thou (2000), not as clever as Fargo (1996), not as gripping as Miller’s Crossing (1990), etc. In effect, it’s a typical Coens’, but not one that stands out and as a result, I was somewhat disappointed.
The movie isn’t bad, but if you like it, you’re likely to like their other work even more.