Burn After Reading

Synopsis: Osbourne Cox, a Balkan expert, resigned from the CIA because of a drinking problem, so he begins a memoir. His wife wants a divorce and expects her lover, Harry, a philandering State Department marshal, to leave his wife. A CD-ROM falls out of a gym bag at a Georgetown fitness center. Two employees there try to turn it into cash: Linda, who wants money for cosmetic surgery, and Chad, an amiable goof. Information on the disc leads them to Osbourne who rejects their sales pitch; then they visit the Russian embassy. To sweeten the pot, they decide they need more of Osbourne's secrets. Meanwhile, Linda's boss likes her, and Harry's wife leaves for a book tour. All roads lead to Osbourne's house.
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama
Director(s): Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Production: Focus Features
  Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 5 wins & 27 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
96 min

Look... you sure this is a goat cheese?

Why don't you let your wife tell them

about her and her own books, Harry?

You come with me. Come in the kitchen,

help me with the crudits.

Goddamnit! He knows, doesn't he?

These are nice floors!

- He knows what?

- About us. He knows about us, little prick.

Don't be such an ass.

He doesn't know a thing.

What is that, Forbo?

- What a horse's ass!

- I don't know why we see them.

- She's alright.

- She's a cold, stuck-up b*tch.

- You quit?

- Uh-huh.

- Oh, thank you for telling me.

- Look, I tried to tell you this after...

You tried? You tried?

And then--- what, the Aphasia kicked in?

- No, then our guest came and then...

- Why?! For f***'s sake, Ozzie!

I don't know.

I've just got so tired.

- You're tired.

- Yes, I'm swimming against the current.


Independent thought

is not valued there.

They resist it. They fire it.

The bureaucracy...

They gave you a pension,

or severance or something or..?

I didn't retire, I quit.

I don't want their benefits.

But my benefit stay will do you, right?

They'll at least see you through, is that the idea?

It's not like that's the only way

to make money.

- Yes? And what you're gonna do?

- I'll do some consulting.

- Consulting?

- Yes.

To help health...

Well, I always wanted to write.


Write what?

I've been thinking about writting a book

or you know a sort of memoir.

You okay there, Dad?

Dad, I left my job at the agency.

I'm sorry, Dad.

Government service is not the same

as when you were in State.

Things are different now. I don't know,

maybe that's the Cold War ending:

Now it seems like it's all bureaucracy

and no mission...

I'm writting a memoir.

I think that can be pretty explosive.

But I don't think you'd disapprove.

Rate this script:(5.00 / 1 vote)

Joel Coen

Joel Coen was born on November 29, 1954 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA as Joel Daniel Coen. He is a producer and writer, known for No Country for Old Men (2007), The Big Lebowski (1998) and Fargo (1996). He has been married to Frances McDormand since April 1, 1984. They have one child. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Burn After Reading" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 21 Oct. 2021. <https://www.scripts.com/script/burn_after_reading_4839>.

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