ben.’s review published on Letterboxd:
here’s the problem with Burning: it spends way too much time striving to stretch nothing into something, and for the faint hearted, this feels like a chore. but it’s insane how Lee Chang-dong ultimately makes all this meandering the film’s greatest strength.
as a whole, Burning is so deeply intimate and simplistic, following three characters woven by a plot thread so thin it feels like it’s already snapped before we’re even introduced to them. yet that simplicity is nothing but a party trick — Lee creeps up on us with all the ambiguity you can imagine. that ambiguity has kept this film stuck on my mind since it ended.
and the worst part is, i don’t even understand it enough to form any opinions on it. so little happens in so much time that by the time it comes to an end, it feels like you’ve missed everything — and maybe you have: the best parts of Burning are hidden in its minute moments. each time you blink, it’s as though a plethora of details have been hidden from your notice.
the last time the ambiguity of a movie gave me a headache the way Burning has was when i watched Denis Villenueve’s Enemy. i won’t be able to go to sleep because i’ll be spending the entire night wondering whether or not there really is a serial killer in this movie, whether or not our protagonist is even sane, or whether or not the female lead is really gone. Burning is a brilliant masterclass in acting and directing that requires a suspense of disbelief and a great deal of patience. it’s my kind of cake!!