Burning ★★★★★

Enigmatic in a way that's endlessly enthralling. The immense thematic density provides so many routes to explore; it feels like each development reveals deeper meanings, minor details demand further reflection and numerous implications lie behind every single expression or gesture. Interspersed throughout the social disparities (underlined by the divide between the dilapidated, rural lifestyle of Jong-su against the ultra-modern, urban existence of Ben that dictates all of their interactions) it deftly probes are various ideas on youthful disenchantment, the unreliability of memory and the harmful impact isolation can have on the psyche. There's a fascinating air of uneasy melancholy to its societal critiques, a muted resentment that is invariably quelled by an accepted powerlessness. Lee Chang-dong's rhythmic direction, expertly fused with the pristine photography and eerie score, crafts that atmosphere which accentuates the illusory and the mysterious that lie within the seemingly mundane. It's dreamlike without losing its grounded believability, existential without becoming too abstract and aggrieved without sacrificing the haunting uncertainty.

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