‘Burn after reading’ isn’t just weird characters, extra marital affairs and CIA agents. While many people may mistake it as just a humorous movie which revolves around a CD disk that supposedly contains ‘highly classified shit’, it offers much more, which is blended in the whole situation so beautifully that it becomes almost impossible to think beyond the obvious. That’s the beauty and authenticity of this film.
It presents the story of four people- Osbourne Cox, Harry Pfarrer, Linda Litzke and Chad Feldheimer, who think that they are choosing the wisest paths. What’s hilarious about this movie is the simple fact that these people don’t seem to understand the big picture. Osbourne, Harry and Linda are all chasing towards their addictions, thinking that they are the epitome of sophistication and cleverness, while actually they are all dumb.
Osbourne Cox, after getting fired from his job as a CIA agent because of alcoholism, decides to write a memoir. And what follows afterwards, are a train of unusual, stupid yet hilarious consequences. The CD containing his memoirs, ends up in the hands of two dimwitted gym workers, Chad and Linda. Chad ‘presents the idiocy of today’. (as quoted by Osbourne in the film). They assume that the financial records that Katie Cox had copied in the CD and the diatribes of Osbourne, is ‘highly sensitive government information’. To add more to the comedy, they attempt to turn over the CD into the hands of the Russian Embassy, thinking that they are providing the Russians with ‘classified material’.
Everyone is chasing towards undefined success, while experiencing deceit simultaneously. What struck me the most about this film, is the fact that we all think that the choices and the assumptions we make, are the best and the right ones, at least at some point in our lives. But what do we really learn even after such experiences? Nothing. I think that it is the ‘nothingness’ of the human behavior the movie wants to throw a light upon.
Linda greatly desires to undergo various cosmetic surgeries because she simply believes that she has a body which is good for nothing. She wishes to change her appearance so that men could be attracted towards her and she could flaunt her beauty. But we mistake her. She is all of these things I have just said but she is also a very confident woman. The choices she makes may not be the best but her determination, confidence and her sense of independence are what impressed me the most.
Harry Pfarrer, on the other hand, is quite a complicated man to understand who believes that divorcing his wife might be the best option. But he isn’t sure about that as he thinks that she is a far too kind woman. And here again, we also get trapped by the innocence of Sandy Pfarrer who is later revealed to be divorcing Harry herself.
And as the movie concludes, with not that much of a satisfactory end as one would have hoped, ‘we never learn’. It could also signify the present political situation of the world and hence, the movie also seems to be a political satire.
What do we learn? Nothing.