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Burn After Reading (2008)

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A disk containing mysterious information from a CIA agent ends up in the hands of two unscrupulous and daft gym employees who attempt to sell it.

Directors:

Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Writers:

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Reviews
Popularity
2,152 ( 4)

A Guide to the Films of the Coen Brothers

From Blood Simple to the new The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, we take a look at the offbeat stylings of Academy Award-winners Joel and Ethan Coen.

Dude, let's go bowling

Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 8 wins & 29 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
George Clooney ... Harry Pfarrer
Frances McDormand ... Linda Litzke
Brad Pitt ... Chad Feldheimer
John Malkovich ... Osborne Cox
Tilda Swinton ... Katie Cox
Richard Jenkins ... Ted
Elizabeth Marvel ... Sandy Pfarrer
David Rasche ... CIA Officer Palmer DeBakey Smith
J.K. Simmons ... CIA Superior (as JK Simmons)
Olek Krupa ... Krapotkin
Michael Countryman ... Alan
Kevin Sussman ... Tuchman Marsh Man
J.R. Horne J.R. Horne ... Divorce Lawyer (as JR Horne)
Hamilton Clancy ... Peck
Armand Schultz ... Olson
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Intelligence is only their job. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site

Country:

USA | UK | France

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 September 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Burn After Reading See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$37,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$19,128,001, 14 September 2008, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$60,355,347, 25 December 2008

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$163,720,069, 25 December 2008
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

SDDS | Dolby Digital | DTS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Frances McDormand's seventh film under the direction of the Coen brothers following Blood Simple (1984), Raising Arizona (1987), Miller's Crossing (1990), Barton Fink (1991), Fargo (1996) and The Man Who Wasn't There (2001). McDormand is Joel Coen's wife. See more »

Goofs

The CIA Supervisor states that Venezuela does not have an extradition treaty with the US. Venezuela has had a bilateral extradition treaty with the US since 1923. See more »

Quotes

Harry Pfarrer: [Looks at floor] What is this? Pine?
See more »

Crazy Credits

There is credit for 'The Walrus' See more »

Connections

Featured in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #21.177 (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Picked Up (Niyi Remix)
Written by Tiff McGinnis (as T.McGinnis)
Performed by Tiff McGinnis (as Crazy Girl)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
An Intelligent. Quirky, Surreal Delight
17 October 2008 | by gary-444See 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.


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