Burning ★★★★★

Burning is a strange title for such a distant film. A title that suggests a deep passion is attatched to a film that views its subjects from afar with an icy reservedness. A strange, but harrowingly effective choice from director Lee Chang-Dong, who proves himself a master everytime he makes a new film. More than a thriller, Burning is a study of contemporary isolation, misplaced longing, and slow chilling realization.

The story would be right at home in any tight film noir, but in Lee's hands it becomes a freewheeling, sprawling, slow burn. The film is so successful because it doesn't take the route most filmmakers would take with the material. Lee amps up the atmosphere until it is at times almost unbearably tense before we even realize what's happened. He goads exceptional performances from the leading trio, especially Steven Yeun who's every micro expression is carefully measured and expertly executed. In a just world, Yeun would be taking the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, his antagonist is as haunting, and fresh as Anton Chigurh, or Ledger's Joker.

Every scene, and every performance is full of incredible nuance. Every shot beautiful in the strangest way. The film is a hypnotic, and mystifying experience that will be popping up in many "greatest films" discussions in the near future. I hesitate to discuss any plot points because this film should be experienced with absolutely no knowledge of it prior. All I can say is that this is a sublime film, Orchestrated by a master of unique and uncompromising vision. One of the Best films of this (or any) year.

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