Burn After Reading ★★★★

A comedy of paranoia that paradoxically stands as both one of the Coen brothers' most frenetic works and one of their most relaxed, Burn After Reading is filled with characters who are all dialed up to 11. Like Snow White's seven dwarfs, these exaggerated caricatures stand as nearly single-adjective representations of comedic prototypes (goofy, suave, insecure, angry), and in a way, they cover what the Coens might like us to see as the spectrum of stupidity (ignorance, laziness, misplaced trustworthiness, arrogance, etc.). Over the web that these characters seems to be stuck in seems to be the spider of the U.S. government, but the film's final punchline is that that institution is just as much of a bumbling fool as everyone else in the picture, and that the paranoid dread felt throughout is some pseudo-religious fear that watches on, shapelessly, emptily, as the characters' absurd relationships reach their sexual or violent climaxes.