Burning (15)

Burning (15)

Directed by Lee Chang-Dong
Picturehouse, Liverpool
11th, 12th & 16th February 2019

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This is a very strange and compelling film set in South Korea.

It centres around three characters, Jong-Su (Ah-In-Yoo) – who lives on a rundown farm near the North Korean border – Hae-Mi (Jong-Deo-Jeon) – who are old school acquitances, who meet by chance in Seoul – and Ben (Steven Yeun), who has shed loads of money, but it is unclear how he amassed it, which adds an enigmatic nature to the story. Is he a gangster or a financial wizard?

The increasing alienation of the modern world felt by a lot of people is especially typified by Hae-Mi.

She is always seeking “to find herself”, and in the latest endeavour to do so, she embarks on a trip to Africa.

After she returns home Jong-Su is eagerly awaiting her at Seoul airport but is more than miffed to find her with the arrogant and narcissistic Ben, who she met while on holiday.

Ben has a peculiar fetish of wanting to burn down abandoned greenhouses but it is not clear why.

This revelation leads to Jong-Su visiting numerous greenhouses, perhaps posing to himself which will be the next to be set alight.

Early in the film Hae-Mi states that “I want to vanish, like I never existed.”

Two thirds through the 150 minutes of the movie you never see her again.

In his pursuit of her Jong-Su begins to stalk Ben.

it is a compelling tale but what impressed me most was the nature and landscape images frequently included and, notably, a eulogy to the sun by Hae-Mi while she is sitting outside Jong-Su’s farmhouse along with him and Ben, drinking wine and smoking pot.

As the sun slowly sets she describes the different colours it radiates as it does so.

it is very abstract in tone, much like the film itself.

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