Burning

Burning ★★★★

It's incredible how riveting and suspenseful this film is for the extreme lack of actual events taking place. Lee Chang-dong has an ability to withhold information in a way that makes the characters more interesting, when many other filmmakers get the opposite effect. Here it helps seeing all the characters with the amount of information that the other characters have, to understand the prejudice, jealousy, and paranoia that drive them.

It's obviously impossible to side with the nouveau riche player who toys with his new small-town friends. That theme of a globalized upper class sucking the life and soul out of the rooted working class is popular all over the world (e.g. Human Capital (Italy) and Mountains May Depart (China)), but this story is much less forgiving of the other characters. The protagonist wears his class-fueled resentment and insecurity on his sleeve and has a disturbing sense of possessive entitlement in regards to the woman, who in turn is at best ignorant to the effects of her search for validation.

Despite the unshapely plots and mysteries, every interaction is just full of layered themes weaving a dense blanket to snuggle with. I love that feeling immediately after a screening when you can't really put your finger on what you got out of a movie, but you know you feel enriched.

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