Review: Burning

15 Aug 18

Let them embers glow

Slowly and steadily - one immaculately written, precisely edited, and perfectly-acted scene after another - Burning chips away at our presumption of certainty with a velvet hammer of ambiguity. Without ever spelling anything out explicitly, we are always clear about what our protagonist, Jongsu, thinks and feels - but the story refuses to provide "confirmation" of any objective facts. Is what Jongsu feels justified? Is what he thinks correct? Did he really know Haemi in his youth? Was there a well in their village? Did she really go to Africa? If she has a cat, where was it hiding? And who was Michaela? The film turns what seems like the poignant story of an uncertain crush into an existential mystery. Just go with its unhurried rhythm - before you know it, you're hooked, suspended somewhere between intrigue, dread, and awe at how director Lee Chang-Dong has ensnared you so tightly with such a seemingly slight scenario. Subtle, moving, masterful storytelling.