Burning ★★★★

Talk about a slow burn (sorry). This is a film that takes over your brain, not only for the duration of the running time but apparently days and weeks after because I still feel under this movie’s influence. Tension, unease, mistrust, anger, and jealousy rumbles under the surface at all times, turned up to 11 with the appearance of Steven Yeun. This captures a lot of the anxieties of modern South Korea – class divides, demands on beauty and lifestyle, and those who unfortunately slip between the cracks into debt and isolation, a situation our character Hae-mi finds herself in. But truly these are problems in all modern societies – this may be a “foreign film” to Americans but it is undoubtedly relatable to us too.

But there are also moments of pure beauty. The standout sequence is an Elevator to the Gallows-style sunset dance, complete with Miles Davis tonal jazz soundtrack. It’s the kind of scene that stops you in your tracks, and despite all of the ugliness of human emotion in Burning this emerges as a moment of peace. We understand for a few seconds Hae-mi’s lust for earthy experiences like this, and we feel bad that the other two stone-cold characters can’t lose themselves in it like she can.

Overall, one of the great films of 2018. Please watch this.

Mary liked this review