The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

IN the Coen broth­ers’ uni­verse, when a char­ac­ter is given a chance to act fool­ishly, they will seize on it with great rel­ish. Fool­ish act com­pounds fool­ish act and be­fore you know it, nearly every­one on the screen is en­tan­gled in a huge mess that far out­weighs the mis­un­der­stand­ing. Af­ter the more se­ri­ous ( and blood­ier) No Coun­try For Old Men, Joel and Ethan in Burn Af­ter Read­ing re­turn to the sort of ridicu­lous romp that’s more in the vein of Rais­ing Ari­zona . Dis­grun­tled al­co­holic ex-CIA man Ozzie Cox, played by John Malkovich, loses a CD con­tain­ing his mem­oirs, which is picked up by two dim-bulb, nar­cis­sis­tic gym em­ploy­ees ( Frances McDor­mand and Brad Pitt) who are con­vinced it con­tains top se­cret doc­u­ments and, be­fit­ting this re­al­ity show to in­stant fame so­ci­ety in which we live, view it as their ticket to achieve their dreams. Throw in Tilda Swin­ton as Ozzie’s dis­dain­ful wife and Ge­orge Clooney as a sex-ad­dict FBI man and the web they all weave makes for ter­rific farce. The in­tri­ca­cies of the film are con­structed su­perbly, so much so that at the beginning, when the foun­da­tions are be­ing laid and it’s slightly plod­ding, it’s easy to won­der if the movie has been a tad over-hyped. As well it may have been: the film feels well done rather than bril­liant and there are flaws, such as Pitt’s per­for­mance which seems over the top even in a movie that thrives on ex­ag­ger­a­tion. Still, once the play­ers have been es­tab­lished and each char­ac­ter’s stakes are clear, it is good fun to get swept away with the mad­ness in such good com­pany as th­ese ac­tors.

Kerrie Mur­phy EX­TRAS: Mak­ing of; fea­turettes ( MA15+) Uni­ver­sal ( 105 min­utes) $ 39.95

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