Venice opens with Pitt and Clooney in madcap comedy

Wed Aug 27, 2008 3:56pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White and Silvia Aloisi

VENICE (Reuters) - Brad Pitt and George Clooney star in a madcap comedy by the Coen brothers in which two gym employees get caught up in the cloak-and-dagger world of international espionage, with results both daft and deadly.

"Burn After Reading" -- spy movie meets slapstick farce -- ensured an upbeat opening to this year's Venice film festival, which opened on Wednesday and winds up in 11 days' time.

Hundreds of screaming fans lined the entrance to the main cinema on the Lido waterfront to greet the Hollywood heartthrobs, who signed autographs and joked with the public before taking their seats for the world premiere of the film.

It re-unites Joel and Ethan Coen with actress Frances McDormand, who is married to Joel and who won an Oscar for her role in their 1996 film "Fargo," as well as with Clooney, who appeared in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

Clooney, by his own admission, regularly plays the fool for the brothers, fresh from their triumph at this year's Oscars where "No Country For Old Men" picked up four awards, including best picture and best directing.

"I've done three films with them and they call it my trilogy of idiots," the actor told reporters after a press screening.

The 47-year-old plays a nervous, twitchy federal marshal whose extra-marital affairs bring him into contact with a gym instructor, played by Pitt, desperately seeking to extort money from a sacked CIA analyst whose memoirs go missing.

"After reading the part, which they said was hand-written for myself, I was not sure if I should be flattered or insulted," said Pitt, whose character the directors describe as a "knucklehead."   Continued...

<p>Brad Pitt (L) and George Clooney pose on the red carpet at the Film Festival in Venice August 27, 2008. REUTERS/Max Rossi</p>