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
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Popularity
1,607 ( 251)
Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 8 wins & 30 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:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Joel Coen: [The Films of Stanley Kubrick] The sound emitted by the homing scanner from Bowman's space pod in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is heard in the opening titles. Harry Pfarrer's house number is 114, a nod to Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). Linda Litzke refers to her "Mickey Mouse H.M.O." provided by Hardbodies, a nod to Full Metal Jacket (1987). See more »

Goofs

When Linda and Chad are at the Russian Embassy the picture behind Linda and Chad on the office wall is Boris Yeltsin's portrait, then in a security camera shot, showing Chad and Linda waiting for Krapotkin, the portrait is of Vladimir Putin. See more »

Quotes

Linda Litzke: [to Chad] The fish has bitten!
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Crazy Credits

As usual, the Coen Brothers edited this film under the pseudonym Roderick Jaynes See more »

Connections

Featured in WatchMojo: Top 20 Unexpected Movie Deaths (2020) See more »

Soundtracks

Moon Over Western River
Traditional
Performed by Wei-min Ying (as Xiao Ying)
Courtesy of ARC Music Productions International Limited
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User Reviews

 
Maintained a dark comedy feel even through the darkest parts
22 August 2019 | by jackgdemossSee all my reviews

Burn After Reading is my first run in with the Coen brothers, so I am completely unfamiliar with their style. What they seemed to have on their side from the get go was a rockstar cast filling all lead and character roles. Even some of the unknowns gave fiery performances. This film felt most similar to Requiem for a Dream both in theme and story-telling. I look forward to catching up on more Coen films in the future.


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Details

Official Sites:

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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

Gross USA:

$60,355,347

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$163,728,902
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

SDDS | Dolby Digital | DTS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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