Burning ★★★★★

Based on a short story by Haruki Murakami, Burning centers around a young man and his new relationships with a girl from his past and her wealthy new friend. Director Chang-dong Lee is in no rush, using the expansive 148 minute runtime to allow the audience to feel as though they have everything figured out, only to add a subtle or sudden new twist. I think the reluctant pace of the film will turn off many, but if you're willing to let it play out, it pays off with surprising depth.

Much of that can be credited to Okja and Walking Dead alum Steven Yeun. Here his subtle American mannerisms make him feel slightly other when surrounded by native Koreans. He's both entirely transparent and a complete cypher. He should really be a bigger star. Yeun's Ben plays opposite to our protagonist, Lee Jong-su. Where Ben is affluent and social, Jong-su is dirt poor and without any friends or useful family we're made aware of. The conflict between the two is the heart of Burning.

It's a conflict between wealth and poverty, and the knock on effects that inequality create. Beyond that, I think it's a conflict about truths knowable and not, and it's a conflict that never really resolves. Quiet and haunting, Burning is one of the best films of the year, and if you can see it, I'd encourage you to do so.

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