Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Did the Coen brothers pre-empt a scandal with Burn After Reading?

George Clooney starred in the Coen brothers' Burn After Reading
Tilda Swinton starred in the Coen Brothers movie Burn After Reading

America's political elites have spent the past five days trying to get their head around the intricacies of the circumstances that led to the resignation of David Petraeus.

Petraeus, the former CIA director and general in charge of the US Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, resigned on Friday in circumstances that felt like the second act of a Byzantine farce.

Namely, the woman Petraeus was having an affair with sent messages to another woman, who reported them to an FBI agent (who was later suspended) and who had also received "inappropriate communication" from Petraeus's successor in Afghanistan.



It wasn't long before comparisons were made between the mucky affair and the Coen Brothers' 2008 black comedy Burn After Reading starring Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Frances McDormand. The plot of the film follows the demise of most of its players – including a CIA agent – due to a similar combination of lust, greed, vanity and clumsiness.



There's also a hagiographical memoir at the root of the scandal in the film. Paula Broadwell, of course, recently published her account of the former general's career – All In – The Education of General David Petraeus.



Let's just hope there are no political forewarnings in the bloody murders of No Country for Old Men and Fargo.

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