Sunday, 28 February 2010

Burn After Reading (or viewing?)

I am a great fan of the Coen brothers. I guess therefore that it is good, from time-to-time, to find a piece of work which is so comparatively poor that it simply underlines the creative genius that is poured into their other films.

This was dubbed "The best comedy of the year' - I am sorry, I laughed only once and that was at the characterisation of a private detective working for a law firm. I understand that humour is highly culture-specific. On the whole, North American humour usually translates to the UK - but on this occasion it got stuck in the departure lounge state-side. The film is a pastiche of concepts that pay homage to the American spy genre with a cross-over to films such as Closer and  Love Actually. The sad thing is that it is not an effective spoof of either genre. Neither is it funny. If the story is meant to paint the CIA in new and ironic way, I'm afraid it's way off target as what is presented is close to the view we have of the CIA in reality. I still remain to be convinced that Americans do irony well. The only people to come out of the film with any credit were the Russians - perhaps the irony was so subtle that I missed it!

The sets were good, as were the acting performances - they simply weren't funny, which in my book is a basic requirement of a comedy. Tilda Swinton presented a character that was so domineering that only Attila The Hun might be interested! John Malkovich's character was intensely paranoid - which he does so well. George Clooney was the girl magnet and Brad Pitt was perhaps too convincing as a gym instructor who's turned his brain into muscle. Frances McDormand's performance drove the plot-line and was extremely compelling.

I'll give it 5/10.

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