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slight black comedy
on March 9, 2009
This sour and slight black comedy takes a bunch of characters, some twisted and nasty, others plain dumb, and sets them in motion in a twirling dance of misunderstanding that can only lead to disaster. It's a kind of post-modern farce. We laugh at their troubles believing they deserve them because they are so unsympathetic or idiotic or both.
John Malkovich plays a disaffected CIA spook writing an explosive memoir. He's married to stiff, British Tilda Swinton who's having an affair with his best friend, a womanizing, jogging-addict George Clooney.
Then we meet Frances McDormand, on the verge of middle-age, working in a fitness center, so desperate to get every type of plastic and reconstructive surgery that's available she'll do literally anything. Brad Pitt contributes an amusing turn as her brainless colleague.
When the Malkovich character accidentally drops a disc of his memoir in the gym, the plot starts moving. Pitt and McDormand try to blackmail him and when that doesn't work offer to sell the CD to the Russians.
Various twists and turns ensue and everyone but one character meet richly-deserved gruesome ends.
It's all fairly amusing but, given the Coen brothers' track record, well below their best work.