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



- Ozzie, come on in.

- Palmer, what's up?

- You know Peck, and Olson?

- Peck, yes, hiya? Olson, by reputation.

- I'm Osbourne Cox.

- Yeah, hiyah.

- Are you with..? Is he..?

- Yeah, that's right. Have a seat.

Look, Oz,

there's no easy way to say this.

We're taking you off the Balkans desk.



In fact we're moving you out

of Sight entirely.

- Just---no discussion, just---you're out?

- Well, we're having the discussion now.

Look, Oz,

this doesn't have to be unpleasant.

Palmer, with all due respect,

what the f*** are you talking about?

...and why is Olson here?

Ozzie, look...

What the f*** is this?

I know it's not my work?

- Ozzie---

- I'm a great f***ing analyst...

- Ozzie! Ozzie!

- Is... Is he..?

Things have not been going well,

as you know.

You have a drinking problem.

I have a drinking problem?

This doesn't have to be unpleasant

We found something for you in State.

It's a... Um...

Well it is a lower clearance level, yes.

But it's not...

Look, we're not terminating you.

This is an assault.

I have a drinking problem?

- F*** you Peck, you are a Mormon!

- Ozzie!

Next to you,

we all have a drinking problem.

What the f*** is this?

Whose ass didn't I kiss?

- Let's be honest!

- Okay.

I mean let us be f***ing honest.

This is a crucifixion, this is political

and don't tell me it's not!

I have a drinking problem!

Are you home?

Honey, hang on to your hat.

I've got some news.

- Did you pick up the cheeses?

- Huh?

- The cheeses, were they ready?

- The cheeses?

I didn't know that

you could be home so early.

Yeah, I left a message for you

to stop by Arno's.

The Magruder's and The Pfarrer's

are coming this evening.

The Pfarrers. Ugh.

What did Kathlyn say?

- What?

- When you left the message?

- That she would give you the message.

- Well, I don't know.

I guess we have a bigger news today.

My day didnt revolve around...

You mean you didn't

pick up the cheeses?

Well, If I didn't get the message,

then I didn't pick up the cheeses.

Oh for f***'s sake! And you wanna

I have to go to pick them up?

But honey, hang on to your hat,

I've got some news to...

- Stay here and get dressed!

- Honey, we have to talk.

But not now. I mean they might be here

in less than an hour.

- Is that a goat cheese?

- Chevre. Yes, that is a goat cheese.

Because I have a lactose reflux

and I can't...

You are lactose intolerant?

- Yeah, but I can...

- Or you have a acid reflux?

- They're different things.

- I know what they are.

- So you misspoke.

- Oh, thank you for correcting me.

You should try the Chevre, Harry.

it's very good.

Oh, yeah. I can eat a goat cheese

I was telling to your husband here,

I have a condition will go into

anaphylactic shock when I...

Harry works in

the Marshall service, Doug.

Oh, I'm on the legislative side.

I work with Senator Hoddy.

I was in the Treasury, in

Department of Homeland Security.

I'm with the Marshalls now.

If you want he'll show you

his great big gun.

That's been funny.

Guns no big deal.

Twenty years of marshall service

I've never discharge my weapon.

That sounds like something you

should be telling your psychiatrist.

I ain't have a psychiatrist.

Boy, I guess my job is pretty undramatic.

I'm on the legislative side.

Mrs. Pfarrer, what you do?

Do you also carry the big gun?

- No, I write.

- She writes children's books.

You know.

Oliver The Cat who lives In The Rotunda.

Those are wonderful!

My nieces and nephews just love them.

Oh yeah. it's a beloved series.

You should see the fan mail she's got.

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:5.0 / 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, 2024. Web. 24 Jun 2024. <https://www.scripts.com/script/burn_after_reading_4839>.

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