Burn After Reading

Burn After Reading is a 2008 black comedy film written, produced, edited and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. It follows a recently jobless CIA analyst, Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich), whose misplaced memoirs are found by a pair of dimwitted gym employees (Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt). When they mistake the memoirs for classified government documents, they undergo a series of misadventures in an attempt to profit from their find. The film also stars George Clooney as a womanizing U.S. Marshal; Tilda Swinton as Katie Cox, the wife of Osbourne Cox; Richard Jenkins as the gym manager; and J. K. Simmons as a CIA supervisor.


Faced with a demotion due to a drinking problem, Osbourne Cox angrily quits his job as a CIA analyst and decides to write a memoir. Upon telling his wife Katie, she surreptitiously files for divorce and continues an existing affair with Harry Pfarrer, a married U.S. Marshal with paranoid tendencies. At the instruction of her lawyer, Katie delivers a copy of her husband's digital financial records and other personal files, unknowingly including a rough draft of Osbourne's memoir. The lawyer's assistant copies the files onto a CD-R, which she accidentally leaves on the locker room floor of Hardbodies, a local gym. The disc falls into the hands of personal trainer Chad Feldheimer and his coworker Linda Litzke, who mistakenly believe it contains sensitive government information.