Burning (2018)

Burning (2018)

The Complex South-Korean Award-Sweeper



Japan, Korea
English, Korean
Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Ah-in Yoo, Ban Hye-ra, Cha Mi-Kyung
148 min

What it's about

An aspiring writer goes to the airport to pick up a high school friend returning from a trip to Africa but is disheartened to see her with another man.

The take

Vague statement alert: Burning is not a movie that you “get”; it’s a movie you experience. Based on a short story by Murakami, it’s dark and bleak in a way that comes out more in the atmosphere of the movie rather than what happens in the story. Working in the capital Seoul, a young guy from a poor town near the North Korean border runs into a girl from his village. As he starts falling for her, she makes an unlikely acquaintance with one of Seoul’s wealthy youth (played by Korean-American actor Steven Yeun, pictured above.) This new character is mysterious in a way that’s all-too-common in South Korea: young people who have access to money no one knows where it came from, and who are difficult to predict or go against. Two worlds clash, poor and rich, in a movie that’s really three movies combined into one - a character-study, a romance, and a revenge thriller.


So deep that you will need some days after you watched to climb out of it.

Thank you for adding to the reviews Anette, but please do not give vital parts of the movie in your review. “A girl’s disappearance” says much too much. Better to do as previous reviewers and simply say mystery, thriller revenge, etc.

This movie is a must-see. It keeps you engaged, even though it is a bit slow-moving. You become invested in the characters and feel for them. Highly recommend.

This is a movie which treats the audience like a group of intelligent people, which is so rare these days.

2 and a half hour movies intimidate me, so I was worried going into Burning. But I have to say, that runtime is completely justified. It’s really two movies in one. Also I found the acting to be fantastic.

An excellent long and slow Korean thriller. The two parts of the movie, one a romance, and the other a mystery of a girl’s disappearance, intertwine beautifully. The movie’s value comes from its atmosphere and the intrigue it creates, and after watching the whole thing the title “Burning” will make sense.

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