Burning

Burning ★★★★★

Cannes 2018

Nothing about Burning is certain except that it haunts the mind long after the credits conclude. Though Lee Chang-dong’s latest film may have not have collected any award recognition at Cannes, it was surely the strongest feature I had the privilege to see during my time there. True to its title, Burning is indeed a slow burn, a dense psychological thriller that equally balances paranoid intrigue and muted rage across its lengthy 148-minute runtime. It’s quite notable that despite this daunting time commitment, and contrary to its seeming fascination with mundane detail, the film is never dull for a moment.

Yoo Ah-in plays Jong-su, a sexually frustrated aspiring writer who agrees to watch the cat of a long lost childhood acquaintance, Hai-mi (Jun Jong-seo), while she is abroad. In the short time before her departure, Jong-su becomes impossibly infatuated with the girl, making her eventual disappearance all the more intensely obsessive for him. Hai-mi returns from her trip with a new friend, the affluent and suave Ben (The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun), before vanishing into thin air “like a puff of smoke”.

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