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Burn After Reading (2008)

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A disk containing the memoirs of a CIA agent ends up in the hands of two unscrupulous gym employees who attempt to sell it.




2,175 ( 272)
Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 5 wins & 26 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
CIA Superior (as JK Simmons)
J.R. Horne ...
Divorce Lawyer (as JR Horne)
Armand Schultz ...


Osbourne Cox, a Balkan expert, resigned from the CIA because of a drinking problem, so he begins a memoir. His wife wants a divorce and expects her lover, Harry, a philandering State Department marshal, to leave his wife. A CD-ROM falls out of a gym bag at a Georgetown fitness center. Two employees there try to turn it into cash: Linda, who wants money for cosmetic surgery, and Chad, an amiable goof. Information on the disc leads them to Osbourne who rejects their sales pitch; then they visit the Russian embassy. To sweeten the pot, they decide they need more of Osbourne's secrets. Meanwhile, Linda's boss likes her, and Harry's wife leaves for a book tour. All roads lead to Osbourne's house. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

memoir | gym | cia | embassy | divorce | See All (146) »


Intelligence is only their job. See more »


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive language, some sexual content and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

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Release Date:

12 September 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Quémese después de leerse  »

Box Office


$37,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$19,128,001 (USA) (12 September 2008)


$60,338,891 (USA) (19 December 2008)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


On Palmer's office in one of the opening scenes of the film, you can see some pictures on the wall behind Palmer on the right side. One of the pictures is a photo of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet shaking hands with Henry Kissinger, US Secretary of State. Kissinger and The CIA acknowledged having played a key role in the coup led by General Pinochet that toppled the Marxist government of Salvador Allende in 1973, the democratically elected president of Chile at the time. See more »


After Katie Cox sees the damaged Mercedes, she enters her house and runs past the mirror where 2 lamps are missing. See more »


[last lines]
CIA Superior: What did we learn, Palmer?
CIA Officer: I don't know, sir.
CIA Superior: I don't fuckin' know either. I guess we learned not to do it again.
CIA Officer: Yes, sir.
CIA Superior: I'm fucked if I know what we did.
CIA Officer: Yes, sir, it's, uh, hard to say
CIA Superior: Jesus Fucking Christ.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Cort Hessler's name appears twice. He was a Stunt Driver on the film. See more »


References Double Indemnity (1944) See more »


All You Need
Written by Paul Adelstein
Performed by Doris
Courtesy of Kick-Off Rally Songs Inc.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Delicate, touching and a delight
2 September 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This film is packed with superb performances and extreme character juxtapositions: Clooney's used car salesman approach to the fairer sex, Frances McDormand's desperation for cosmetic surgery that leads her into the most unlikely of alliances with the gawky idiot played hilariously by Brad Pitt, Tilda Swinton's studied coldness and straightness and her manic, dangerously disappointed husband played by a masterful and creepy John Malkovich...the plot, as with many Coen brothers films, is almost irrelevant: it's the set-pieces and the way that things happen that grabs you. I think you either love it or you hate it and as I have a sense of humour (somewhere) I love it.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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