Michael Cox’s review published on Letterboxd:
"...A metaphor? What is a metaphor?" - Shin Hae-mi
See where it ranks among my Top Films of 2018
This was suggested by Jack as a part of the film of the week for the Film Club. Go follow him. He's cool. If you want to see all of the films I've watched for the Film Club, click here along with my ranking of each.
This was... interesting. South Korean cinema likes to tell some interesting stories and I'm all here for them, but they've got to have an ending that satisfies.
Burning seemed to be about class and the struggles between the two. More specifically, the power the rich hold over the lower class. They are the ones who wield all the power. They can do whatever they want to those who aren't as fortunate as them and they won't receive any consequences for whatever they do either. They're the ones who can play instead of working from paycheck to paycheck just to live. One character in particular represented the allure the rich has over the impoverished and that allure allows them to manipulate those however they please. And again, to emphasize a point, to do whatever they want with no consequences.
If you could infer by the poster, the film is gonna be gorgeous to look at and it was. The blue hues and sunsets are absolutely stunning. The score was beautiful and haunting. However, the film's strength laid within its screenplay. My gosh, it had to be one of the strongest from 2018 because the film demanded your attention. Every line felt like it mattered as quite a bit of them harkened back to something mentioned previously. The script was littered with metaphors and you could see in this in what the characters said and the events that occurred. This is what every screenplay should aspire to be. So put your phone down. Get rid of every distraction. Focus and enjoy the ride!
Jeon Jong-seo (Shin Hae-mi) was great. She was really cute and I liked her relationship with the two male characters. Yoo Ah-in (Lee Jong-au) was also pretty great. Steve Yeun (Ben) was the standout. He always made me feel unsettled in some way like he always had some devious planned and he had this air of arrogance about him that could also be a dig at Americans. It's great stuff by him.
However, on a more general note, the film was pretty slow, but I felt like it was earned as the film flipped from this subtle love triangle to a mystery. Then again, at times it would struggle to keep my attention because it would feel there wasn't much of a point to it. There were time where it was pretty obvious that it was based on a book by the way everything happens. One major problem I had with the film was the ending. To me, at first, it made no sense and felt completely out of the blue. There was no foreshadowing whatsoever and felt like it was there purely to shock the viewer to say "HA HA! What a twist, amirite?" So that left a pretty sour taste in my mouth. I started reading up on it a little more and it made sense. It still frustrated me.
This was a great film, I guess. I wanna say it was pretty good because the ending was... uhhhh... something I wasn't too fond of. But it what it is and I can't deny its quality.
🔙No Country for Old Men