Burn after Watching

Matthew, I should have trusted your warning.

Shortly after the most recent Coen brothers movie, Burn After Reading, was released, my son Matthew saw it, and reported to me that it had been a waste of time. The movie, he reported, was largely senseless.

Matthew’s opinions normally are quite similar to my own, so we let this movie drop from the radar screen. Recently, some new friends reported to me that they had watched it and loved it. That recommendation together with the lure of the stellar cast (I’m a big fan of Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins) drew us in.

As usual, the Coens craft a bizarre story and tell it in a unique way. But this one seemed to go absolutely no where.

When I began teaching junior high English I would ask students to write a story and when they asked how long it would be, I’d give a limit, say, one page. Some students would being a really good story, but seeing that they were near their one page goal, kill off their hero at the end of the page. They had done their duty.

That is what this movie left me feeling. It began well, interesting characters in interesting situations. But the brothers got to their two-hour ‘page’ limit. They were done. Goodbye.

So, if any of you saw it, what am I missing?


3 thoughts on “Burn after Watching

  1. Rebekah

    I liked the movie better the second time. That I watched it a second time doesn't mean I would buy it, but I did like it.It was bizarre–that's indisputable. I'm not sure what the point of the movie was. I'd have to think about that. But it was entertaining to me.The characters were all very well crafted. But were they real? Hmm…for the most part, they were pretty real, even if they were exaggerations. What makes the movie perhaps the most unsettling is the scale of the violence and the way the film smacks you in the face with the messed up lives of the characters. It could be considered a stretch to compare these two films, but I hate the 1932 Laurel & Hardy movie "The Music Box" because its somewhat violent and inane. Yet…so many people think it's funny. Perhaps it's just the way that "Burn After Reading" is presented…

  2. Randy Greenwald

    Bizarre is a Coen given. Interesting and exagerated characters as well. I suppose it is something like Millers Crossing – such a cavalier approach to human evil that kind of makes it seem inevitable and of the essence of being human. Pretty hopeless in the end. I don’t think, though, I’ll see this one a second time. Alas.

  3. Seth

    Amy and I started to watch this with some friends of ours here in South Florida. We quit about 1/2 way through. We couldn’t really follow what was going on, and it wasn’t funny or intriguing or anything. It was just there. I can put up with profanity if the movie has a point or if it fits the situation, but this was just too much. What a waste of half of an evening.

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