Burning ★★½

I'm tired of female characters being used as ambiguous, manipulative, sexual, mysterious driving forces for men, while they remain underdeveloped and we get no real insight into who they are. There’s an interesting (but neither new, nor deep) analysis of class & masculinity & latent homosexuality—all ambiguous and metaphorical enough for the viewer to come out with their own interpretation—but it comes at the expense of a woman, who is ultimately just a narrative device for the men. Of course, you can argue that we only see Hae-mi through Jong-su’s perception—and Ben also remains an enigma, though he is far more tangible than she is—but that still doesn’t excuse how the narrative treats her. (I’d like to think we’re past the point of these types of female characters.) I did appreciate how there was space to interpret Jong-su as being just as bad as Ben when it came to Hae-mi, possibly (probably) even worse; in the end, he isn’t interested in her as a person, he sees her only as the object of his desire, obsession and possessiveness masquerading as love, resenting her as soon as she acts differently than he would want. But this is all surface-level, as the film is more interested in exploring Jong-su’s interiority and the tug-of-war that ensues between him and Ben. I doubt that the same film from Hae-mi’s point of view would’ve gotten the same amount of praise and attention.

But aaaah, the scene where they're all drinking wine and smoking and talking... I miss hanging out with people so much.

Maria liked these reviews