Sarper’s review published on Letterboxd:
I'm kind of at a loss for words with this one quite honestly. It feels like if I could start talking, I would go on for hours but piecing together every piece of this puzzle has been quite a challenge for me. I haven't stopped thinking about this beautiful, haunting masterpiece and my melting pot of ideas is completely full but left with no way of expressing myself just like Jong-Su, there are ways to do it but I am way too overwhelmed to come up with anything. But I'll try my best...
A totally dazzling and gripping story, that won't let you off easily, basically soaked in a pool of themes and ideas Burning is a beast. It's not fast-paced, doesn't have any flashy style choices with no crazy action scenes but when you finish it, this lightning goes in your head and you are stunned now. You started as the Little Hunger but now you are the Great Hunger.
"Generique" plays as the sun is setting, sky is drenched in blue now
This movie is quite an achievement if you ask me. A literal technical masterpiece. I'm not very familiar with Chang-Dong Lee but I've always been intrigued by his work for a while and this film shows that he is truly a master of his craft. Lots of long takes that take you in. Every scene and shot is created with such atmosphere, elegance and coordination. Like a shot of Jong-Su running as flocks of bird are flying the same way with him, almost guiding him to his next destination or a shot of a field completely saturated in blue fog that gave me the chills. Good cinematography is something I'm automatically starting to expect from Korean films at this point but this is something else. And I think a review of this film wouldn't be complete without mentioning the last scene. WO-AH...
Themes present in this story are probably way too much to list off but I think some standouts are loneliness, change of perspective on old events, class difference between the poor and the rich and longing for others. Screenplay of this is also immaculate but I guess that'd be the ultimate word to describe this as a whole.
Every member of the cast is phenomenal. Ah-In Yoo as the silent but effective protagonist, that's as clueless as we are, does wonders subtly hiding his rage and Jong-seo Jeon, in her debut performance I'm guessing, as the lonely but sweet Hae-Mi are wonderful but the real stand-out here is surprisingly Steven Yeun as "Ben". I don't really remember how he was in The Walking Dead, since I stopped watching that shit show like 3-4 seasons ago but I remember him acting kind of really awkward and whiny(?) but he is able to say so much with so little and intimidate without ever breaking and losing it to our lead.
Burning is a meditative journey trough a greenhouse that's always boiling underneath you. I have done the general examination now but I can't wait to dive in deep and perform surgery on this one after my inevitable numerous rewatches.