Burning Drama

TIFF Review: ‘Burning’

September 15, 2018Sherry Li

Burning, from director Chang-dong Lee, is a definite slow-burner, but each moment is used to tell the haunting tale that unfolds.

Jong-su (Ah-in Yoo), a young man from the countryside in Paju, runs into his old classmate Hae-mi (Jong-seo Jeon) one day in Seoul. They quickly reconnect and Hae-mi asks him if he would come over and feed her cat for him while she goes on a trip to Africa. When she returns, she brings back Ben (Steven Yeun), a rich, mysterious older man who has taken an interest in her. Jong-su, who is quickly falling in love with Hae-mi, learns that Ben likes to burn down greenhouses for fun. And when Ben warns him that it'll be one that is close to his farm in Paju, Jong-su quickly becomes obsessed with finding the one that Ben says he will burn down.

An example of fantastic storytelling where the audience is slowly fed clues about the truth, Burning will catch audiences off guard with its portrayal of raw emotions, fantastic performances, and intriguing plot. For this is a film where, though the tension slowly builds throughout, there is always something simmering under the surface.

Burning makes its North American premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 28 min.

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