Burning ★★★★★

TIFF 2018 film #7

At the Q&A after the screening, director Lee Chang-dong was asked what he’s been doing since his last film, the 2010 Poetry. He replied that he spent the time thinking about the fundamental question about what film is. With Burning, Lee has stepped up to a new, higher stage.

Lee invents new forms of film grammar. He presents a story that seems to defy traditional storytelling, yet captivates us with questions about life’s little mysteries, and life’s big mysteries; small and big hunger.

Adapted from a short story by Japanese author Murakami Haruki, Barn Burner, Lee takes the central mystery of the work and expands it to new universes. Many in the audience, including Lise, saw a clear answer to the mystery, but me, ( possibly by being dense ) interpreted the film entirely differently. I read a translation of the original short story subsequently, and the meaning many took from the film is more obvious. Lee’s film allows for broader interpretation, and it’s why I consider it a masterpiece.

This film is too big for me to unpack and comment on with a single viewing. You can bet, though, that there will be subsequent viewings.

I can’t wait to see what Lee does next on this new stage. I just hope I don’t have to wait eight years.

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