Burning ★★★★½

Directed by Lee Chang-dong and starring Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun and Jun Jong-seo, the film follows a young aspiring writer who runs into a woman from his childhood and soon meets a mysterious young man named Ben, who starts to become suspicious.

Korean cinema has been a strong contender for a long time now, but with Parasite, Train to Busan and Burning being released in recent years there has arguably never been a greater time for it to seep into the mainstream. With Burning, director Lee Chang-dong crafts arguably the finest film of 2018, with his story of a deadly love triangle, mixed with beautiful cinematography and a mysterious atmosphere, creating a film that could easily be described as visual poetry for the audience as not only does it look amazing, but also offer a story unlike no other.

When making a film revolving around one-character thoughts and feelings of those around him, the film will undeniably rely heavily on the performances within. Luckily for Burning, Yoo Ah-in and Jun Jong-seo give two brilliant performances that truly enhanced the film for me with their dialogue and actions working splendidly together throughout. Yet Steven Yeun brings a whole new level to the table. He's impeccable, outstanding and miraculous as Ben with the uneasy atmosphere that lies around him helped massively by the incredible performance he gives within. It's not often I'm so taken back by one single performance, but he was truly fantastic and generated a level of awe and uncertainty that truly stunned me.

Burning is the kind of film that demands a second viewing in order to appreciate the complex elegance of its design, with many details being systematically calculated to lend themselves to more than one interpretation. The degree to which it succeeds will depend largely on one’s capacity to identify with the unspoken but strongly conveyed sense of jealousy and frustration its lower-class protagonist feels compared to the higher-class antagonist. With its sense of class anxiety enveloping the movie to the point it undeniably takes a toll on the audience’s outlook of the characters as you're never sure who's judgement to trust given the clouded love the main character finds himself in and the mysterious nature of the other. This creates a story that's mystery is truly outstanding, you don't know what aspired and thus leaves a brilliant ambiguous ending that allows for the audience to interoperate the film with multiple outcomes.

This ultimately left an unforgettable mystery that scorched my mind, with the ambiguous ending creating a level of constant bewilderment that left me without a definitive theory once it concluded. Lee's screenplay balances the drama and intrigue beautifully and, at the end of the day, left a film that will stun audiences for years to come as it’s truly a piece of extraordinary storytelling and a fantastic film. 
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