Well, it’s a Coen Brothers production, and that generally means it will be different. I went along to this with heart in mouth because we had recommended it as a high school chaplaincy fund-raiser. Many of the people I was with were senior genteel church folk, and, since booking the theatre, intelligence was coming in on how unpalatable this cinematic experience was going to prove to be.
Burn after Reading is a black comedy, a satire – typically disturbing because it holds a mirror up to the masses. The laughter one hears in the theattre is the nervous laughter of recognition. None of the characters (as opposed to actors) had any redeeming qualities. Each one was self-obsessed… even self-addicted. The plot, with its typical Coen inspired twists and turns, was, I felt secondary to the portrayal of truly awful characters. Relationships were meaningless and moments that promised warmth and empathy in relationship turned out to be means to narcisssistic ends. Some would have come away from the film asking “What was the point of it all?” I think this was the point. I came home from the film and was immediately confronted with the community drama happening in my own street. My own community was gathered there, shocked and seeking to comfort each other as the fire engulfed our local shopping centre. It was the opposite to the “anti-community” portrayal of the film.