Burning ★★★★

There are many things about BURNING that is ambiguous and uncertain, but the one thing I do know for sure; the title isn't a reference to the film's pacing. Lee Chang-dong's latest is the very definition of a slow-burn. But it's packed with so much nuance and subtext that it's never mundane. The first half is loaded with mystery and symbolism, you're never really quite sure what is happening or why. There's a love-triangle of sorts, Steven Yeun's Ben character is an enigma and they sure do love to eat. Outside of that, your guess is as good as mine, but that's the beauty of what Chang-dong is exploring inside the film's themes of consumerism, class and personal fulfillment.

The second half is a distinct turn into something more Hitchcockian, relying more dramatic tension and character obsession. I'm not convinced it all works - there are A LOT of narrative conveniences - but there's something about Lee's isolation, loneliness and envy that makes sense of his impulses and dubious actions by the end. Yoo Ah-In's performance is spectacular in making it feel earned as well.

She's not on screen a ton, but Jean Jong-seo is really fantastic when utilized here. Her dance at the mid-way point is mesmerizing. Chang-dong's use of music there is absolutely brilliant.

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