Luke’s review published on Letterboxd:
Despite watching this film only a month ago, I was really craving a rewatch. God this movie is so unbelievably perfect. It’s not just perfect in its style, tone, and pace, but it’s perfect in its ambiguity. There are two arguments you could make regarding the events that transpire over the course of the film: A) the argument I like to make that Ben did in fact murder Hae-mi, and B) the argument that Ben did not kill Hae-mi and Jong-su is out of his mind.
There are very reasonable points you could bring up for both. Half the difficulty comes from the fact that Lee Chang-dong does everything in his power to provide clues that could be used to bolster either argument. For example, there’s the almost clear sign that Ben killed Hae-mi in his seemingly metaphorical burning of the greenhouses. On the other hand, there’s Jong-su’s father’s lawyer saying the line, “Aren’t all protagonists crazy?” To go even further, Hae-mi tells Jong-su that she wishes she could vanish, as if she had never existed at all, which is exactly what happens.
I could write a whole damn essay but every single little clue and diversion Chang-dong hides in this movie. It’s woven into every piece of dialogue, every slight facial expression made by Ben, every scene and event and their contents. I mean it when I say you could potentially find an answer in every single second of this film.
And that’s why Burning will always be a top four for me.