Burning ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

It took me longer than I like to admit to fully watch this film due to being busy with uni work and also naughty naughty scenes i didn’t want my parents overhearing. Finally, it is done.

I’ve not watched a whole ton of Korean cinema from this era but the more I do, the more I’m becoming aware it was the decade of class conscious filmmaking. This poignant theme in Korean cinema is most often communicated not through its narrative, but by its complex characters. Under capitalism, there are no heroes. For what we own to have any value in a capitalist system, others must go without it, thus instilling greed and competition in all of us. It’s these values which let society, and the characters within the film, cannibalise themselves with their suspicion of one another. The poor are in fearful awe of the rich, expecting to be crushed under the boot if they don’t comply. However, they have a dim hope that one day they might be the one wearing the polished boot and driving the Porsche. On the other hand, the rich are also on edge that they may be overtaken by those below, and they themselves fall to the bottom of the well. Burning, like other films of the era, also finds time to wags its finger at the notion that easier class mobility is the way to patch poverty’s wounds. To get to the top, someone must always be crushed under your heel. To get them under your heel, you have to degrade them. That’s what Jong-su’s character is about.

I enjoyed Burning. For as long as it took me to get through, I thought it was fun, well directed and well shot. It has a lot more to say than first meets the eye, and I one day might revisit it. Who knows.

lou liked this review