Burning is a haunting and memorable film


As a Porsche 911 Carrera pulls out of a parking ramp, an old truck proceeds to creep behind it. The drivers behind the wheel have complex and emotional motives. In the span of two hours and twenty-eight minutes, we will see where these motives lead the characters and the consequences they must face in the end.

Burning is a Korean film that comes from South Korean director Lee Chang-dong. It is based off of the short story Barn Burning by Haruki Murakami. When Burning opens, we are introduced to Jong-su, an aspiring writer working as a delivery man. As he makes his way through the streets of Paju, a girl from Jong-su’s hometown named Hae-mi recognizes him, and they quickly become acquainted with each other again and start to have a relationship. Shortly after this, Hai-mi takes a trip to Africa and returns with a wealthy Korean man named Ben whom she met on her trip. Although Jong-su respects Ben, he begins to grow suspicious of Ben as he becomes a barrier between Hae-mi and their relationship. As Jong-su learns more about Ben, he discovers that one of Ben’s passions is burning down abandoned greenhouses hence the title of the film: Burning.

I recently started watching foreign films and had heard lots of praise for Burning online, so naturally, I was quite enthusiastic about seeing it. Put simply, Burning was exceptional. It was a brilliant and beautiful film, and every aspect of it seemed to be done right.

The pacing of Burning may put off some viewers from the film, but I personally thought that the pacing and tone were some of the most impressive aspects of the film. I was always immersed in the film during the extensive runtime. A tense feeling is woven throughout the story that sits with you. You know that something doesn’t seem right, but there’s nothing you can do to prevent what may or may not happen. Everything that occurs is unpredictable, and we are forced to witness the events as they unfold in front of our very eyes.

In an emotional narrative, great acting is essential to the story to make it believable. The three main cast members in Burning executed their roles perfectly, most notably, Steven Yeun who portrays Ben. Yeun does a superb job of expressing Ben’s eerie sense of calm throughout the filmmaking his character more mysterious and questionable. Yoo Ah-in, who plays Jong-su, channels obsession during his search for answers very well, and  Jeon Jong-seo shows Hai-mi’s internal conflicts through her facial expressions.

Burning was so compelling that will definitely be on my mind for quite some time. I am able to recall specific scenes from the film in an instant without taking a long time to think about it. This is something that a lot of movies are not able to achieve, and I was very impressed by this. The characters and the overall feel of the film were so unique. I felt myself empathizing deeply with the characters on an emotional level which really drove the film for me.

Burning is one of 2018’s finest films and is something I would definitely recommend for you to experience yourself.