We rarely go to the movie theater any more, save for the obligatory blockbusters. But I think the Coen brothers are great, and when Mrs. Salad indicated her desire to go see Burn After Reading, we were off. For her part, no matter how much she might try to deny it, I think she's got kind of a thing for George Clooney.
The plot kicks off when Osborne Cox, played by John Malkovich, gets shitcanned from his CIA post. Cox is a snarling bag of insecure misanthropy and pride; he's married to cold-hearted bitch Katie (Tilda Swinton), who's having an affair with Harry (George Clooney). Meanwhile, fitness-center worker Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) is desperately trying to turn her lonely life around with expensive cosmetic surgery and Internet hookups. Her goofy and greedy co-worker Chad (Brad Pitt) stumbles across a CD with, he thinks, valuable spy stuff on it; it turns out to belong to Osborne, and Chad and Linda hatch a get-rich-quick scheme.
I managed to get through that description without sticking "the great" in front of every actor's name; they are all excellent here. But I'll go out of my way to mention the great Richard Jenkins as Ted, who plays the straight-arrow fitness-center boss, mournfully infatuated with the oblivious Linda. Jenkins gives consistently excellent performances even in mediocre movies.
To pigeonhole, it's a black screwball comedy, and the main characters tread a very fine line: they are flawed and very stupid, but all are interesting, and most of them likeable. The movie might not be to everyone's taste, but I had a great time.