Saturday, 2 April 2011


Another screwball comedy from the Coens with another impressive cast. You can read their names on the DVD cover above. Malkovich, Pitt and Swinton are new to Coens' company and they fit just right in.

For a comedy, however, it's more amusing than funny though somewhere around the halfway mark there is an outrageous and completely unexpected laugh aloud moment which, almost irrelevant in itself to the plot, nevertheless justifies the entire movie.

It's like the much earlier Blood Simple in that events proceed on the basis of characters misunderstanding what is actually going on but to very different effect. I could summarise it but that would take all day and spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it yet. The setup, however, that gets things rolling is this. It begins when Malkovich quits the CIA in disgust at being reduced in rank. Clooney, a senior bodyguard, is sleeping with his wife (Swinton). Swinton is considering divorce and her lawyer advises her to get a copy of all her husband's accounts so she downloads everything from his laptop onto disc which includes his memoirs in progress. A copy of this disc somehow falls into the hands of Pitt (a well-meaning idiot) and McDormand (a middle aged woman who wants cosmetic surgery) who work at a gym and, thinking they've stumbled on something top secret, after screwing up with Malkovich, take it to the Russians. Philanderer Clooney meets McDormand through an internet dating agency. And things go from bad to sometimes spectacularly worse. Some people die and at least one person gets what they want.

It's a very ingenious film with lots of twists and turns that constantly surprise the viewer. The big name cast is terrific but I'd like to single out Richard Jenkins (the gym manager secretly in love with McDormand) as one of those actors who is always in work, whose face is vaguely familiar, always gives a good performance but whose name we can never remember and this is his third movie with the Coens. This time, despite the big name actors around him, he stands out as the only sane character in the movie. He's in the photo above with McDormand and Pitt.

This is one of those Coen movies where there's more show than substance but what is on show is very entertaining even though the whole is less than the sum of its parts.

Random Notes.

Helped, no doubt, by its high profile cast, the film made just over a healthy $160,000,000.

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