We measure, by watching Burning movie, the distance traveled by Lee Chang-Dong in his filmography, and the rather splendid maturity he shows in this new opus. Adapting a short story by Murakami, the filmmaker pursues a few obsessions that are his (mourning, pain, memory, the relationship to the system), in a still so ample form (2h30, as for practically each of his films). But a certain transformation has taken place: Burning, contrary to its title’s promises, is a slow-burning, almost neurasthenic film whose intensity is appreciated over time.
Burning movie critic
We are far from the explicit crises of the characters of Peppermint Candy or Oasis: everything is played out here in silence and silence, in a form of imposed solitude and the opacity – almost Bressonian in certain respects – of inaccessible faces.
On this point, recourse to portraits is one of the essential components of the film: the slightly broken and almost animal face of the protagonist, the closed and elusive one of the figure of the father, are opposed to the beauty of the young girl and her child. new companion. It is no coincidence that this former schoolmate first reminds Jongsu, the protagonist, that he had violently insulted her at the time about her physique: her metamorphosis says a lot about the inaccessibility to the truth of beings. Young sunny girl, blossomed and spontaneous, Haemi affirms the insolence of her beauty by the light: in these rare rays which come to light up her room and will serve as a real relic for the protagonist, as well as a sublime dance scene in the sunset, nerve center of a story doomed to fall into obscurity.
Progressing quietly, indexed on the passive silence of his character, Burning movie always refuses the explicit. It is all the more interesting that the latter fantasizes about himself as a writer, and sees himself relegated to the rank of observer in front of a page that remains blank. Around him, life arises, and most of the time, crushes: it is his father facing the system, which is silenced by force, and the romance between the one he loves and a young man who allegorizes all the capitalist violence: handsome, rich, with a chilling smile, looking down on a world he considers an all-you-can-eat buffet.
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Silence and Light: Jongsu’s Investigation doesn’t actually say its name, and turns off the expectations of the conventional thriller. The ambivalence also stems, of course, from the provocation of his suspect, who, from the height of his omnipotence, enjoys disseminating clues. Disillusioned by the excess of his wealth, he resorts to entertainment that clearly tells the perverse march of a civilization in the throes of decay. “Burning greenhouses”, according to his own admission, thus shines a bright light on the boredom of one who no longer has any desire to satisfy, and, paradoxically, draws the promise of headlights in the night that his rival is going to survey. while running. This is where the essence of the work takes place: in this opaque trajectory, this silent search which, in a sense, allows the character to be written geographically, and thereby to mark his presence in the world.
As a result, the brutal denouement is perhaps too much (and here too, recalls the violent discharges to which Bresson’s cinema can sometimes lead), since it explains what was dormant, verbalizes through gestures what was relevant to a silent duel of singular intensity. But it in no way erases the vibrant presence of this trio which knew how to express hatred, desire, love, recklessness, perversity and lack in a silence of rare incandescence.
Check this video where Steven Yeun, one of the leading actors of Burning movie, discusses Burning at the 56th New York Film Festival.