We are a the halfway mark with another glorious weekend just a stone’s throw away. So gear up for another round of fresh releases starting tomorrow! But before that I decided to handpick a film from my watchlist and review it. And the movie which I picked was the South Korean film Burning on Amazon Prime, regarded as one of the top 10 movies of the decade by an institution. South Korea is known to make some absorbing thrillers with unique storylines. On checking the credentials of the film further, I noticed that it was South Korea’s official entry under the Foreign Film Category in 2018, a year before Parasite. That really caught my eye and I was curious about the film, not knowing what to expect! So is Burning worth your time, stay tuned.
Story & Screenplay
Burning follows the story of a loner who bumps into a girl from his neighbour who plans and decides to visit Africa on a trip of self discovery. On her return from Africa, she brings with her a friend who has a mysterious hobby. The story might seem simple on the surface but it is extremely convoluted and requires your attention to the details. There have been many fan theories on whether the character of Shin Hae-Min was a figment of the imagination of the protagonist or whether the character of Steven Yeun was a serial killer. And the best part is, there are no clear answers to it in this film which turns out to be a mindfuck. The leisurely and non hurried screenplay might divert your mind but this is almost the writers teasing you into overlooking some of the finer details. You really need to stay focussed right from the start until the very end to really understand the subtext of the film. Each subtext is layered and conflicting and it is ultimately upto the audience to decipher the mystery. The screenplay is thoroughly engaging and it will stay with you long after the film has ended. I for one was running through many theories long almost through the next day as well. This is a writing masterclass if ever there was one with so many twists that are subtle in a truely satisfying screenplay and also philosophical in places representing the mindframe of a lonely depressed person perfectly!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are subtle yet they hold weight and make an impact. There are so many code names, like greenhouses stands for girls, that will make you scratch your brains in this playful thriller. The BGM blends beautifully with the drama and really enhances it. The camerawork is excellent, capturing the frames perfectly. Director Chang-dong Lee has done a phenomenal job. He manages to hold your attention throughout by playing tricks with your mind. Just brilliant direction and a huge green tick in the report!
The performances are outstanding here. Steven Yeun as Ben who was also in Minari(again Highly Recommended) is just brilliant here. There is a certain amount of ease in his performance that would often want to give him a benefit of doubt, but he is sure to give you chills as well. Jeon Jong-seo as Hae-mi is excellent here. A free spirited girl who potentially changes the course of the film, a job very well done. Yoo Ah-in as Lee Jong-su playing a lonely depressed guy is certainly on point. There are so many shades to his character which hevportrays perfectly. The gaze of the audience is through his character and this is the sole reason the audience are kept guessing and often scratching their heads.
Burning is a modern day masterpiece, no two ways about it. Available on Amazon Prime and Highly Highly Highly Recommended.