[Quick Summary: After a fired CIA man's draft manuscript goes missing, several idiots scramble around, trying to capitalize on it.]
My two cents on this script: Just go with it.
It's not the finest, or the smartest, or the most clever.
However, there is a clarity of writing in this script that I admire.
Here, each character has got immense, single-minded drive, i.e., they pursue a clearly defined goal without hesitation from beginning to end.
These characters are so fierce, so exaggerated in their pursuit that it becomes farce.
In the scene below, Osbourne (CIA man) has just been fired, yet his wife only cares about cheeses. As you'll see, this is about not hearing what is being said.
ex. "KATIE: You're home.
Osbourne continues making himself a drink.
OSBOURNE: Hang on to your hat, honey. I have some news. I -
KATIE: Did you pick up the cheeses?
KATIE: Were they ready? I didn't know you were coming home this early.
OSBOURNE (blank): The cheeses.
Katie rolls her eyes.
KATIE: I left a message for you to stop at Todaro's. The Magruders and the Pfarrers are coming over.
OSBOURNE: The Pfarrers? Ugh. I --what did Kathleen say?
OSBOURNE: When you left the message?
KATIE: She said. She would give you. The message.
OSBOURNE: Well she, I don't know, I guess we had bigger news today. My day didn't revolve arou-
KATIE: SO you didn't get the cheeses.
OSBOURNE: Well, since I didn't get the message, no, I didn't get the cheeses. But hang on to your hat, I -
KATIE: Oh for fuck's sake, Ozzie, you mean I have to go out again? All right, well, you better get dressed.
OSBOURNE: Honey, we have to talk.
KATIE: Not right now. They'll be here in, what, less than an hour."
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: The single minded, exaggerated pursuits of goals (farce) makes the point of missed communication far better than a drama would have.
Burn After Reading (2008)
by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen