Forget After Viewing
- Burn After Reading review by Count Otto Black
Despite being a Coen brothers fan, I thought I must have somehow missed seeing this when in came out 8 years ago. But as I started watching, it felt oddly familiar. It gradually dawned on me that I'd seen it after all, but I couldn't remember a thing about it. It's very unusual indeed for me to completely forget a film. Unfortunately, having watched it again, I can understand why I found it so forgettable the first time round.
This is an attempt to recapture the magic of "The Big Lebowski" by recycling its essential themes and plot elements. Misguided people with strange, obsessive agendas pursue a MacGuffin they think, wrongly, is valuable, and the production team assume that much hilarity will ensue. One scene from "The Big Lebowski" involving a very minor character is repeated almost exactly, and the same menacing music (from Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition") that accompanies Jeff Lebowski's landlord's dance is heard when somebody's call is put on hold, just to tip us the wink. But this time round, everything falls embarrassingly flat.
Almost all the characters are horrible, shallow people obsessed with their outward appearances because there's nothing really going on inside them, whose numerous sexual entanglements are so joylessly robotic that one of them has even built a huge and extraordinarily creepy mechanical sex-toy just so we don't miss the point of that subtle bit of satire. With a mean-spiritedness which has become more and more apparent in their later work, the Coens show us nasty people motivated entirely by greed, lust, vanity and spite being nasty to each other, decide more or less randomly which of them will get away with it, mete out ghastly fates to those who don't, and introduce one token character with finer qualities just to be dumped on because hey, life isn't fair, even in comedies!
Several excellent actors are underused in multiple subplots which never properly cohere. Tilda Swinton in particular has absolutely nothing to do except be so unpleasant that it's impossible to understand why two other people in the movie find her attractive. John Malkovich is his usual irrepressible self, but he interacts so little with the main protagonists that he's barely in the same film. George Clooney is cast against type as a charmless creep, which kind of defeats the object of hiring George Clooney. And Brad Pitt is annoyingly unfunny as a man-child with the IQ of live yoghurt. The jokes don't work, you don't care about the characters, and the plot exposition is lazy and confusing, as if even Joel and Ethan Coen had begun to lose interest before they'd finished filming. It wouldn't even deserve two stars if it wasn't for some of the acting. Definitely one to file and forget.
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.
burn before watching....
- Burn After Reading review by CD
Totally dire, not funny in any way, shape or form. Thought that a couple of big name actors would not sign up for a film this bad, the script must have been dire as well, has to be on my worst film ever list!
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.