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Burning(버닝)

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

Korea

2018

2h 28m

Director Lee Chang-dong

Starring Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun, Jun Jong-seo, Kim Soo-kyung

Genre Drama, Mystery, Thriller

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Jongsu, a quiet delivery boy and aspiring writer, is unemployed and living alone when he runs into Haemi, an eccentric girl who once lived in his neighborhood. He agrees to watch her cat while she goes to Africa, and when she returns with an enigmatic young man she befriended abroad, Jongsu's simple and solitary life is upended.

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WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING?

Meagen Tajalle Profile picture for Meagen Tajalle

Burning is an encompassing and enigmatic film that takes a novelistic approach to the narrative. It's nontraditional, but all the more interesting for its refusal to conform to any particular formula. No pun intended, this film is a slow burn well worth the watch.

Hannah Benson Profile picture for Hannah Benson

This film is a captivating adaptation of Murakami's "Barn Burning." Steven Yeun is great and charismatic. Cool to see him do a role in Korean. The visuals are very beautiful, especially when they are sitting outside Jongsu's house with the jazz music in the background. The tone is handled really well because the film feels slightly off throughout but it is hard to understand why until the end.

Kelsey Thomas Profile picture for Kelsey Thomas

BURNING is incredibly subtle in its seduction. The slow pace builds tension in the viewer, who can sense that something is not quite right but is left without a tangible reason why. Hae-mi is the film’s enigmatic empty center, and her interactions with the two love interests, complete foils of one another, drive the mystery forward.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

91

The A.V. Club by A.A. Dowd

Burning simmers. For nearly two-and-a-half perfectly measured hours, it turns up the heat without boiling over: a drama becoming a thriller in slow motion, intensifying little by little minute by minute, until finally it reaches a shocking, powerful crescendo.
91

IndieWire by Eric Kohn

Burning keeps twisting back on itself, charting the path of a man waking up to the world, only to find that it won’t stop messing with him.
100

Los Angeles Times by Justin Chang

Burning is a character study that morphs, with masterly patience, subtlety and nary a single wasted minute, into a teasing mystery and eventually a full-blown thriller.
90

Variety by Peter Debruge

The degree to which Burning 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, coupled with a need to impose some sense of order on events beyond our control.
83

The Film Stage by Rory O'Connor

Burning might not have a huge amount going on below its gorgeous surface, but it drags the viewer along with all the seductive intrigue of a frothy page-turner.
100

Screen International by Tim Grierson

Once again, Lee has crafted a film of wondrous complexity and inscrutability. The more we see in Burning, the less sure we are of what we are watching.
100

The Telegraph by Tim Robey

This is Lee’s closest ever film to a thriller, but it defies expectations, offering multiple, murky solutions to a set of mysteries at once.
90

The Hollywood Reporter by Todd McCarthy

This is a beautifully crafted film loaded with glancing insights and observations into an understated triangular relationship, one rife with subtle perceptions about class privilege, reverberating family legacies, creative confidence, self-invention, sexual jealousy, justice and revenge.

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