Burning ★★★½

Wonderfully shot and staged; there's a rack focus from the protagonist's face to the trees behind him that is one of the great moments in any 2018 film. But the film has a pretty steep character problem necessitated by the story it's telling: two of the three main characters are only ever seen through the perspective of the third, and the whole point is that he can never figure them out. Meanwhile, the other point is that he himself is a bit unformed and disordered emotionally, so we don't get to know him either. And this could be fine, even interesting or great, except that the film spends the first 75 minutes doing absolutely nothing whatsoever. Which I'm on board with as a general strategy, but given that it won't tell a story and it can't be a character study, I think the question of how, exactly, those 75 minutes are supposed to be artistically productive is one that just hangs there. There are slow burns, and then there's watching an unlit fuse for an hour before anybody even says the word "match."

Second half is pretty tight, though, I'll spot the movie that.

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