Andre Nicolai’s review published on Letterboxd:
I’ve waited a whole year to finally see this film and I couldn’t be anymore happy to have finally seen this. BURNING is a riveting and thrilling ride that went into directions I did not expect it to go into. This became one of my all time favorite foreign films real quick.
Lee Chang-dong is an exciting director and writer , he knows how to play the audience and focus on making his characters strong. The camerawork in this film is excellently sharp. Lee truly knows how to bring characters to life and make them the beating heart of the film. The three main characters here bounce off each other with great distrust, need, and mystery. BURNING is a truly deep, engrossing, and tension filled story.
The performances are stunning, mainly from Steven Yeun and Yoo Ah-in. Yoo Ah-in is such a great lead, we see him from start to finish and his character is such a revelation. You feel for him, you try to understand him, and you end up wanting to solve this mystery alongside him. Yoo Ah-in is fantastic for the entire runtime, there was never a dull moment with him.
Steven Yeun is perhaps the standout of the film. Maybe it’s just me? I’m a huge Steven Yeun fan. Yeun manages to be emotionless and charismatic at the same time, it’s truly some riveting acting from him. The way he delivers his lines feels so purely energetic and gives off this very uneasy vibe. He plays a mysterious character, Yeun was definitely a great choice here.
The story is just fantastic. I have no words, this film left me speechless. It resonated with me hard after it ended, as I write this review, I’m still thinking about it. The first hour or so is very slow paced, it is indeed a slow burn, quiet, you get to spend some time learning things about two key characters. After the first hour is over with, the film takes off into this very thrilling mystery. It grabs you, never lets go, and when it ends, you can still feel its grip on you.
There a lot of themes and metaphors placed within this film. I mean, there is a lot of stuff packed into this. Ambiguity is a major theme in this movie and it relies entirely on Yoo Ah-in’s character’s perceptions to investigate it. The filmmakers give us the opportunity to interpret and analyze this film in our own views, that’s what I love about this. By the end of the film you are left analyzing this film in all kinds of different ways. The power of film is insanely beautiful.
Overall, I enjoyed the hell out of this film. I’m pretty sure I will be doing a rewatch of this in order to fully comprehend it. When it ended, my mouth was literally hanging open. This is such a well done film. The score for this is excellent too. The performances are great, the directing and cinematography are phenomenal, and the overall story is just so moving to me.