Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and an absolutely vast amount of swearing.
Story: Er... I suppose there was a story somewhere. Let me think... Oh, yeah... A group of people in Washington DC go through mid-life crises over their work, appearance, marriages and/or sex lives. Through a series of affairs and a misplaced CIA disk, their lives become intertwined. Everything gets seriously out of hand.
Comments: At what point does open-ended become inconclusive? When does multi-stranded simply cross-over into disjointed? Where is the line between art and chaos?
Call me a scientist, but I like a story to have a beginning, a middle and an end. Usually in that order. A story should make its way cleverly and amusingly from somewhere to somewhere else with a couple of unexpected turns in between.
There are other people who think a story should be all about the characters - going nowhere is fine as long as that is consistent with the relationships and inner turmoil being portrayed. The point can be that there is no point. As one of the characters in Burn After Reading so aptly puts it near the end, 'What have we learnt? Not to do this again.'
Yep, if you like a good plot, then this isn't a film for you. Burn After Reading is quite simply a story about some crazy people, some of whom have guns. Brad Pitt's character is easily the most likable because he is an idiot, not just being one. There's less story than in No Country for Old Men, and what is there is held together by a huge coincidence.
That said, the bizarreness of it all does produce some genuinely funny moments and the star cast does a good job. The film is always interesting to watch if seldom out-and-out entertaining. Maybe it's open-ended, multi-stranded art.
Or maybe not...
Conclusion: One of those films that was clearly more fun to make than it is to watch.
Body count: Higher than you might expect.
Best bit: Brad Pitt's hair.
Suitable for viewing with your gran, kids or church youth group?: I wouldn't advise it.
Lesson: Impending middle age leads to madness (and incoherent movies).