Burning

Burning ★★★★

This was the third Lee Chang-dong film I've seen (after Secret Sunshine and Oasis) and my first impression was that it was his most conventional. But having seen it to the end and having slept on it, I don't think it's really "conventional" at all. The only thing that I would define as such is the lush cinematography, but even that is very unorthodox, with its superb long takes and unusual long shots.

A major part of this film's plot happens off-screen, and is only implied or hinted at by the film itself. What is shown is a slow, atmospheric burn, which builds up tension, character, and, most importantly in my mind, symbolism.

I think there is an incredible richness to be gained from reading in between the lines of Burning. Not everything is as it seems. Also, Chang-dongs social and political commentary is very subtle and leaves space for viewers to make up their own minds about the issues being explored. Theres stuff about new wealth, Western influences, and the role of history in present-day life. Its a film thats probably worth revisiting.

Only downside is that this two-hour movie felt like three, but even thats got its perks.

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