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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
2,216 ( 64)

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:

A high stakes love life and Jewel CIA shelter. 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

On the Criterion Blu-ray of Blood Simple (1984), in "Shooting Blood Simple" featurette with Barry Sonnenfeld, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen reveal that the joke involving the sex chair built by Harry Pfarrer was taken directly from key grip Tom Prophet Jr., who built a very similar device in real life, and cited the exact same reasons as Harry. See more »

Goofs

When Osbourne Cox receives his notice of insufficient funds, as he looks at the paper, it clearly says "We recently we received..." Clearly whoever typed up the paper was torn between using the word 'recently' or 'received', and, after deciding on one of them, forgot to remove the other. See more »

Quotes

Harry Pfarrer: You work for Tuchman Marsh?
Tuchman Marsh Man: Yes.
Harry Pfarrer: Is that a law firm?
Tuchman Marsh Man: No, a rock band - yes it's a law firm...
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Soundtracks

Born Free
(1966)
Written by John Barry and Don Black
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
not their best, but pleasurable nonetheless
16 September 2008 | by massimo-pigliucciSee all my reviews

This is by far not the most interesting production by the Cohens, but it is worth watching on a variety of levels. First, there is the pleasure of seeing a bunch of good actors working together with great chemistry, some of them (like Pitt and Clooney) certainly not in their "traditional" roles. Second, the story is actually wacky enough to hold up in terms of internal logic, as strange as it may seem. As usual with the brothers, do expect some unexpected turns, of the violent variety. And yet, somehow, the movie retains the character of a light comedy. Pay particular attention to the very last words spoken in the film, they may be the best summary of the whole thing I've heard so far.


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