Burning (2018)



Burning is available to rent, buy or stream.

Some films forever burn a place in your memory; these rare cinematic treasures eat away at your thoughts long after the credits roll. They are movies you feel an instant need to revisit, attempting to find all the clues you missed as you search for closure. Lee Chang-dong’s Burning is one of these films. Based on the short story by Haruki Murakami, Chang-dong’s movie ripples with tension as we are taken on a twisted journey that Hitchcock would be proud of. Here themes of consumerism, wealth, memory, and desire combine to create a sublime and intricate mystery that is haunting confusing, dark and beautiful.

Jongsu (Yoo Ah-in) is a young graduate who lives an isolated life as he scrapes together a living as a delivery driver in Seoul. However, Jongsu’s life is about to change following a chance encounter with Haemi (Yun Jong-Seo). Haemi seems to know Jongsu, and her presence does, indeed, bring back some vague yet confused childhood memories. However, when Haemi becomes involved with a wealthy businessman, Jongsu finds his life consumed by a spiralling mystery of no escape, one that will test his moral compass as the past and present merge into a living and breathing nightmare.


Burning’s narrative never allows for complacency as it weaves romance, tragedy and mystery into an unsettling tapestry. As we near the film’s blunt conclusion, Burning leaves you hanging, the story unfinished yet climatic as the secrets and lies built up over its runtime float in the air like the burning embers of a raging fire.

The result is a haunting mystery with outstanding performances, direction and cinematography. Here Lee Chang-dong’s ability to slowly build a sense of fear and uncertainty is masterful as he weaves his slippery tale of human connection and history. Burning is no carbon copy thriller; it’s a unique, haunting, and bold journey that further highlights the beauty and strength of South Korean filmmaking. 


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