Writer: Jungmi Oh, Chang-dong Lee (Screenplay) Haruki Murakami (Story)
Starring: Ah-in Yoo, Steven Yeun, Jong-seo Jun, Soo-Kyung Kim, Seung-ho Choi, Seong-kun Mun
Plot: Jong-su bumps into a girl who used to live in the same neighborhood as him, who asks him to look after her cat while on a trip to Africa. When back, she introduces Ben, a mysterious guy she met there, who confesses his secret hobby.
Tagline – Now Tell the Truth
Runtime: 2 Hours 28 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Slow Burning Mystery Thriller
Story: Burning starts when Jongsu (Yoo) working part time in the delivery job he bumps into an old neighbourhood schoolgirl Haemi (Jun) who asks him to look after her cat while she travels to Africa. Jongsu has his own problems though, with his father facing jail time, leaving him the small farm to operate.
When Haemi returns, she brings the mysterious Ben (Yeun) the only other Korean she meets in Africa, he is older, richer and has a laidback attitude to life unlike most of the Korean’s Jongsu has met. When Ben revives that he has a secret hobby, Jongsu’s life takes a drastic change, as he gets drawn into this world.
Thoughts on Burning
Characters – Jongsu is a simple delivery boy that is trying to figure out a way to help his father out of his prison sentence, while this is going on he looks after their small farm, until he meets Haemi, who opens up his world to something new, until she goes missing he starts to look at life the way Ben taught him. Haemi is the girl from the neighbourhood Jongsu grew up in, she asks him to look after his cat while she travels, she returns with a new man which sees him start to become jealous, until she vanishes. Ben is the mysterious man that Haemi returns with, he is wealthy, older and has a secret hobby unlike anybody else, Jongsu starts to become fascinated in his ideas of the world, which leads him down a dangerous path. These three characters are the main ones that we meet, we barely get into any supporting characters, with every shot being focused on what Jongsu is seeing.
Performances – Ah-in Yoo in the leading role is fantastic to watch, he keeps our attention to his characters decision making by showing us the emotional journey he must go on. Steven Yeun is the biggest global name in this film because of his time on the Walking Dead, he brings the confidence that his character requires to make him feel mysterious throughout the film. Jong-seo Jun brings the bubbly energic performance the film requires from her character with ease.
Story – The story here follows a delivery boy that reconnects with a former school friend who ends up bringing him into a world with a mysterious stranger, who teaches him something new about the life he enjoys. This is a slow burning (no pun intended) story that builds up the tension in the life of Jongso as he must piece together what might have happened to Haemi after she vanishes, he must also deal with his own person problems after his father is facing jail time, showing the uncertainty of his future. We get plenty of time to build everything up, which in places does drag along at times, though this does lead to the explosive conclusion of the story.
Mystery – The mystery elements are bought to us by wondering just what could have happened to Haemi with Jongsu desperately trying to learn the truth and not having any leads to truly follow.
Settings – The film uses the settings to create some of the most beautiful shots in film in 2018, we see how the busy city can bring people together and the open spaces can give them peace from the world.
Final Thoughts – This is slow burning story that does delivery everything it promises, it has brilliant performances that control the film which is a joy to watch.
Overall: Burns bright.