This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Logan’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Burning is a weird one. Like the title suggests, it's a slow burn. It takes a long time to set up it's characters and it's themes, but when it reaches the ending, it flips the way you'd expect this kind of movie to resolve itself and leads to a movie that on reflect
It starts as like a drama/romance, but neither of those genres are really prominent. Nothing dramatic really happens in the story, and the romance that's developed feels odd. Jong-su and Hae-mi's "romance" isn't really present in a significant way. They sleep together once and hang out for a bit, but they never establish a clear relationship and they don't really forge a strong connection.
And the drama then comes when Steven Yeun enters and a "love triangle" forms, but it's never directly a love triangle, it just this underlying jealousy the main character projects onto him. He sees him as this perfect figure, he's rich, he's charming, he looks like Steven Yeun, he seems perfect and a underlying jealousy forms between them.
But like most things in this film, it's vague. This movie doesn't divulge any answers, you never find out what happened in the end and you never figure out who you can trust. It's left in mystery as we are so singularly contained within Jong-su's perspective that we can't tell if his thought process is correct or if he's conflating details in order to construct a narrative he would rather accept.
At first it's a very bizarre way to end things and kinda left me a bit unsure of how to rate it, but after sitting on it for a bit, I like that it has that ambiguity, and allows you to view the story from multiple perspectives. The general message still stands, of this story of class division between the two of them, how one feels confined by society and everything is stripped away from him for no real fault of his own, and the other has luxury and freedom to do whatever he wants and face no repercussion.
It's expertly directed by Lee Chang-dong, who makes this story visually interesting and grander in scope than it is and this it energy through the staging, editing and score.
It's just a bit good. I do think it's length leads it to suffer a little in parts dragging out and some of the character interactions feel kinda off, but other than that I think this movie was excellently crafted. South Korea once again schooling the world on how to make great movies.