Burning ★★★½

This movie is much better as a character study than as a comprehensive cinematic experience.

I think all three main protagonists are well-crafted, engaging with interesting perspectives on the world at large. I just wish the movie they were placed in was less concerned about coming across as so artsy.
Burning could've easily been an American production with a change in locale. Maybe that wouldve impacted the frustrating decision made by the director and DP to have so many shots, whether they pan, are tracking or just static, linger on longer than needed, attempting to imply or create an excess of meaning that sometimes really isnt there.
The core themes of millenial angst and existential dread do juice up the dramatic tension between the three main characters, but some scenes are laced with a smidge of pretension.
In addition, the three main characters although riveting to watch (and the actors who play them), they do feel constructed from the template of overwrought stereotypes. Jong-su is your typical modern young man, who's quiet, a loner who's not very social and doesn't have a lot of friends. Hes sexually frustrated and contains a lot of bottled rage due to his disillusionment (it is implied that South Korea's high unemployment rate is impacting him.) Hae-min kind of contrasts him, being a vulnerable young woman with no sense of direction and yearning for something deeper that she cant quite put her finger on (that's what I got from her obsession with "Big Hunger' and "Little Hunger"). Its said and I think it was a mistake that her part in the story gets minimized in the second half of the film; she basically becomes a pawn to the clash of heads and egos that ensues between Jong-su and Ben.
Ben is a man, well-off and rich, who lives lavishly, is a chick magnet and has a carefree personality. Jong-su is turned off by his type (urban and cosmopolitian) and never gets over it. The people Ben associated with alienates Jong-su on a deep level. Which leads us to the ending...

Its bold and shocking, but doesn't feel right. What did Ben do to deserve that? Be rich? Be everything good that Jong-su isnt? If he had raper Hae-min, I'd understand but that's not the case.

Ambiguity in a movie usually helps it in its favor. I cant exactly say the same with this one.

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