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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.




2,447 ( 242)
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) »


A high stakes love life and Jewel CIA shelter. 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?


George Clooney has stated he learns a lot from the Coen brothers for his career as a director and tries to have things running the same way they do on his films, even hiring their storyboard artist, J. Todd Anderson, on two of them. See more »


The check that Osbourne Cox wrote was returned NSF to him, when in reality it would be returned to the payee. See more »


Ted Treffon: Linda, what do you really know about this guy?
Linda Litzke: I told you, he's in the Treasury Department.
Ted Treffon: But eh, no, I mean, you know... he could be one of these guys that cruises the Internet.
Linda Litzke: Yeah, so am I...
See more »

Crazy Credits

There is credit for 'The Walrus' See more »


Featured in Meet the Mormons (2014) See more »


Written by William Mays (as Bill Mays)
Performed by William Mays (as Bill Mays), Martin Wind & Matt Wilson
Courtesy of Palmetto Records Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

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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