Burning ★★★★½

Soberly shrouds itself in mystery and rewards patience, this is ostensibly three kinds of movies in one; a character study, a mystery, and a revenge thriller, and yet each of these classifications fail ls to adequately describe all or even part of Burning as the film continually undermines and subverts expectations. A subtle sense of dread is dangled throughout, but I was left constantly questioning if the apparent assumptions that I - and the main character - kept making were based on evidence or too-thin assumptions. What Lee Chang-dong does here brilliantly is focus on the listener. He sets up these long takes as the listener's face ripples with almost imperceptible discomfort at the intaking of the speaker's stories. Lee, Shin, and Ben are all painstakingly socially perceptive, which makes it revealing to just sit in these long takes, seeing far more than just what is being said. It's a haunting enigma based not in evidence but in social cues, insecure distrust, and emotional instability.

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