Burn After Reading:
A misunderstood Coen Brothers specialty
Joel and Ethan Coen are two unique and talented men. Few film makers can match the Coen’s originality and raw talent. As a consequence, their movies are oft considered odd, and not for the general movie going audience. You and I are film buffs, engrossed in the world of film, excited and enthralled by it. Not everybody is like this. Thus, not everybody will appreciate the obvious talent that these two men possess, simply for the fact that their movies sometimes come across as weird. In my humble opinion, Burn After Reading is a prime example of the Coen’s talent and unique style. Many bashed this movie, including many critics. I am here to explain as to why I have such a great appreciation of this film, and as to why you should give it another chance.
I am not going to sit here and try to tell you that Burn After Reading should have won best picture at the Oscars, and that it rivals the Coen Brothers’ best movies, such as No Country for Old Men. This is for the simple reason that it’s not an Oscar contender, or as good as No Country. This wasn’t what the Coen’s were aiming for here. Burn After Reading’s sole purpose was to be oddly entertaining. The characters, the plot or anything really wasn’t meant to be taken seriously. People seemed to expect this movie to be the next modern classic, and to mean something on a deeper level. It wasn’t and it didn’t. Burn After Reading didn’t want you to relate to these characters. It wanted you to watch their silly adventure. Expectancies killed Burn After Reading. People didn’t get what they were expecting, and it turned them off. This is why Burn after Reading is a prime example of The Coen’s unique style.
The characters are completely fictional. What I mean by this is that they all have out-there personalities. Brad Pitt plays a jovial fitness fanatic, yet he somehow always seems unaware of what is happening. This is played as a comedic element. Yet still, Pitt never feels like the comedic relief. Everybody is. No one character steals the show. Our job as the audience is to follow their stories, and not to become too engrossed in them. There are simply too many characters to follow in Burn After Reading to become engrossed in all of them. We follow each characters individual storylines, until they all intertwine. Trying to understand and grasp our characters on a deeper level just isn’t practical. The movie is told in an almost short-story manner. The narrative has no intention of becoming a cinematic, deeper-meaning film. Burn After Reading is simply jovial, unrealistic fun. And there is nothing wrong with that. Films don’t have to be consequential all the time.
People complain that there are no original movies anymore. But when an original or unique movie is made, people go running away from it because they are scared. This is exactly what happened with Burn After Reading. This was more of an analysis piece than a review, so I won’t give a rating or anything like that. I wasn’t trying to give my opinion on the movie or tell you what the plot is or who was in it. I just highly recommend that you check this movie out, as it is one the Coens’ most misunderstood films. Just go in with an open mind, and be ready for the unexpected!