Burning

Burning ★★★★½

A slow-burning film full of ambiguity and mystery. Every detail in this film seems to be meticulously planned even if it's meaning isn't immediately clear. Lee Chang-dong is clearly in control of pacing and atmosphere as this film is masterful in those aspects, not to mention gorgeous to look at.

Every character in this film feels a tiny bit off if you observe them. Our lead, Jong-soo, is never directly considered weird or off kilter but in certain scenes and conversations has a lack of any reaction at all which is pretty noticeable. Hae-mi, the love interest in this triangle the film focuses on, is also quirky herself. She sleeps with Jong-soo almost immediately after they "reunite" (and we later find out that Jong-soo never really talked to her growing up other than to call her ugly), and has little to no contact with any friends or family. The 3rd part of this triangle is the newcomer Ben who Hae-mi meets while abroad in Africa, who is a "Gatsby" as Jong-soo describes him. He is young and wealthy and lives an almost completely different life than Jong-soo or Hae-mi.

A little over halfway through the film the plot takes a major turn and slowly begins to escalate from there. The thing is that we are never shown or given many hints of what happened so we are forced to go off of assumptions and guesswork just like Jong-soo. Some of the clues seem to obviously point in a certain direction, but some just leave you unsure. But processing these facts and clues through your head through the tint of jealousy and obsession like Jong-soo does may make them appear different.

Another interesting part of this film for me was how Ben and his other friends interacted with the two different girlfriends we see Ben bring to their "gatherings". Both times they are all sitting around watching the girlfriend, who is of a lower class both times, like she is the night's entertainment. Like they are so out of touch with how common people live that they just want to watch them tell everyday stories.

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