Director: Lee Chang-dong
Country: South Korea
Rating: ★★★★.₅ – loved it
Deliveryman Jongsu is out on a job when he runs into Haemi, a girl who once lived in his neighborhood. She asks if he’d mind looking after her cat while she’s away on a trip to Africa. On her return she introduces to Jongsu an enigmatic young man named Ben, who she met during her trip. And one day Ben tells Jongsu about his most unusual hobby…
I had never heard of Burning before watching a few ‘most underrated movies of 2018’ or ‘best movies of 2018’ videos. After seeing all these people talk about this movie in such an enthusiastic manner, I know I had to watch it as well. A little bit of research taught me that Burning would play twice in a cinema in Brussels, so I went with one of my wonderful friends.
I honestly don’t know how to describe my feelings on this movie. I definitely loved it, and spent ages after watching it thinking about the story and characters. However, I was left with so many questions too! Usually that would leave me pretty annoyed, as I’m not a huge fan of open endings. With Burning, I didn’t mind not having all the answers – or any, to be honest. It had me and my cousin spouting theories at each other for hours afterwards.
If it wasn’t obvious already, I highly recommend watching this movie. Let’s talk about the reasons why.
⭐️ the cinematography is absolutely mind-blowing. This movie is nothing short of stunning, and that alone makes it worth watching. The way they play with colors just leaves me speechless.
⭐️ a character-driven story that will slowly draw you in. Lately, a lot of the movies I’ve been watching have either been action movies or straight-up romances. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with those, but it does make Burning stand out more. This is a movie that develops slowly, and captivates the viewer in an entirely different manner.
⭐️ incredibly atmospheric. I feel like the atmosphere of this movie helps you become more attached to the characters, as well as get drawn into the story itself. I’m not sure how else to describe the atmosphere this movie created. It’s been months since I watched this, and I can still remember how I felt sitting in that movie theater seat.
⭐️ manages to make the viewer feel certain emotions by manipulating them subtly. The director (as well as the actors) truly mastered the art of manipulating the viewers feelings without it being too obvious. There are no jump scares or typically scary things in Burning, but the majority of the time you will feel unsettled and off. It prods at your intuitive sense of knowing when a situation is dangerous.
⭐️ the fantastic performance of the actors. As this is a character-fueled story – which I have mentioned at least 3 times now – it is very dependent on the quality of acting. I’m happy to say that their performance was stellar here. Steven Yeun especially stood out to me, but maybe that’s because I was already familiar with him. Nonetheless, this might be my favorite performance of his I’ve seen so far.
I don’t want to give anything else away, because this is a story you truly have to go in knowing as little as possible. All I can do is to urge you to watch this movie, even if it doesn’t sound like one you’d like. I promise you the experience will be worth it.