Trevin Alger’s review published on Letterboxd:
My second Lee Chang-dong film, Burning, was a slow burn. I had seen Secret Sunshine which also garnered rave reviews from what I've seen, and I felt not at all. It was a piece that I could see was made by someone that knew how to make a wonderful movie, but there was no wonder for me. An hour into Burning I felt the same. So much so that when my wife fell asleep, I decided to turn it off. It took me four days to force myself to come back. And I only did that because I don't like to leave a film half watched. Thank goodness for that personal rule.
In the first hour we are introduced to our main character, his love interest, and her love interest. I have never been one for love triangles, and none of the characters drew me in. The lead was lost in a world too big for most of us, the girl was playing mysterious and speaking about her plastic surgery to become beautiful (which I have to say, the amount of plastic surgery billboards and posters in Seoul was upsetting), and our other male was that hard to compete with but easy to hate asshole we've seen many times before.
The timing of my pause and stop were perfect for getting the most out of my second push. Within 10 minutes of the film being back on, I got the cover sequence, which was ethereal. The emptiness and depression I'd felt so far in Chang-dongs movies were too flat for me to feel anything myself. While this may be an accurate representation of the emotions, they could not call them up in me. I couldn't feel anything with the film. I felt all of this shirtless dance. And I felt everything following. I was hooked.
We then step from being lost to floating. We move around in a dream searching for a pile of ashes that used to be a greenhouse and don't know how to feel, only that we are feeling it. Is this dream begins to feel like it will never end, we are pulled in a definite direction, deciding the only way forward is to decide for ourselves what has happened. Our main character decides what he has to do, ends his dream in the only way his dream could end, and I was wholly satisfied.
I'm very happy I returned, and i will be returning again to see what else i can find in Chang-Dong's filmography.
Added to my *Top Films of 2018* list.