Burning ★★★

”Don’t imagine that the orange is there, but forget that it’s not there.”

The perfect definition of slow-burning filmmaking – perhaps even to a fault. One hour into the picture I still could not discern what course the film was going to take. Lee Chang-Dong takes his time to build a narrative that is layered and unexpectedly twisted, but his lack of guidance throughout the first half, albeit later rewarded by a stunning conclusion, made the experience initially flat. It is hard to invest when you are not sure if you are watching a romantic flick, the tale of a failed artist, a study of loneliness or a critique about socioeconomic gaps. Although I do believe that “Burning” could be a bit more straightforward in its storytelling and subtle in its clues (i.e: the parking lot sequence), nevertheless Lee Chang-Dong must be praised for his quietly devastating approach to the crime genre. At first most of what we are seeing seems random, but then you realize that a slow-burning fuse has been lit and that tragedy has already begun to unfold without you noticing it. It all culminates in a beautifully ambivalent finale.

[64/100]

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