Burn After Reading

Now that we are in the early stages of seasonal change from Summer to Fall in New England, there is finally hope for some good movies for grownups. It seems like we have to wait longer every year to avoid getting our senses assaulted and our intelligence insulted at the cineplex.

“Burn After Reading” provides a glimmer of hope. I sensed that the movie was going to be good shortly after it began, when my eye was distracted by the bright screen of a mobile phone a few rows down on the other side of the aisle. It was young teen, sitting as far away from her mother as she could get so that the mother couldn’t see her texting a friend. I believe that she had seen enough to conclude that even though Brad Pitt and George Clooney were in the movie, she was actually going to have to engage her mind to understand what was going on. As a result, she was no doubt text-whining about how bored she was – until someone got up and asked her to turn the damn thing off, which she did. She then adjourned to the lobby.

It’s not a great movie, but it’s a wonderfully dark and twisted one in which absolutely no one is likeable, and there is no happy ending. There are a lot of laughs along the way if you appreciate a well-written plot, and if you’re willing to engage with it.

At one point in the movie, a senior CIA guy says to one of his underlings:

“Report back to me when it all makes sense.”

He’s the only character in the movie who’s really got a grip.

(Click on the title for a synopsis. Illustration from "The New Yorker" magazine.)