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Burn After Reading (2008)

R  |   |  Comedy, Crime, Drama  |  12 September 2008 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 231,685 users   Metascore: 63/100
Reviews: 538 user | 332 critic | 37 from

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




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Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 6 wins & 17 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)


Osbourne Cox, a Balkan expert, is fired at the CIA, 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 diskette 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 elective 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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

memoir | gym | cia | embassy | divorce | See All (137) »


Intelligence is relative. See more »


Comedy | Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

| |  »


| |


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
See  »

Did You Know?


The first Coen Brothers film not photographed by Roger Deakins since Miller's Crossing (1990). He was unavailable, having committed to shoot Revolutionary Road (2008). See more »


At the end of the film, when the CIA supervisor opens & closes a file marked "Top Secret", the file's cover-sheet is outlined in red. This is an error because the cover-sheet of all "Top Secret" classified files are outlined in orange. Red is saved for the cover-sheets of all classified files marked "Secret" and blue is used for the cover-sheets of all classified files marked "Confidential". See more »


Chad Feldheimer: Appearances can be... deceptive.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


References Meet Joe Black (1998) See more »


Born Free
Written by John Barry and Don Black
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

An Intelligent. Quirky, Surreal Delight
17 October 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This film will not be to everyones taste, and I wholly understand the polarised responses.A star studded cast enjoy a knowing, wordy script, where dialogue counts, a Coen brothers trademark.However not very much happens, and the narrative is disjointed, so the pace of the story is very staccato.But once again the result is something very wide of the Hollywood mainstream and is all the more satisfying for it.

A 95 minute running time,, and several separate but interwoven plots, mean that screen time for individual actors is limited. Consequently each shines in their given roles, relishing the word play and eking the maximum out of each situation.No scene is dwelled upon, and the occasional bloody outburst of violence, or titillating appearance of a Sybian machine , is shown then moved on from before you have time to work out exactly what is going on.

The script is littered with double entendres, "running gags (pun intended)and lines aimed straight at the audience from the screen. No-one knows what is going on, or what has gone on, or what is going to happen, and is all the better for it.A mini-masterpiece.

60 of 101 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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