BURN, BABY BURN
Height years after Poetry, Lee Chang-dong comes back with a drama about the complicated jealousy of the social and familial determinism. The combustion is slow but the patience is rewarded.
generic mentions that it’s adapted from a Murakami’s short story, but one of the characters clearly quotes William Faulkner’s «L’Incendiaire», a story about blood bounds and frictions caused by social inequalities. There is a lot of that in Burning, but Lee Chang-Dong tells it his way that mainly consists in keeping informations to himself, or rather limiting the meaning that we can give to them. The spectator is then free of his interpretation, clawed by frustration.
The story is about a «ménage à trois», seen trough Jongsu’s eyes, a delivery man dreaming to become a writer, even though his production is limited to a petition for his father, who’s being judged for assault. While which Jongsu is being hit on by Haemi, a lifelong friend that wants to ask a favor from him, and falls madly in love with her. Until when Ben arrives, an arrogant rich young man, against whom Jongsu can’t compete, and that pretends to burn down greenhouses in the countryside. Mysteries pile up, the lack of certainty, the main character’s passivity, voyeur always in the dark, give Burning a dark movie appearance, amplified by Haemi’s disappearance, that Jungsu will search on as a private investigator, in a spiraling drift.
We can see in the two male protagonists the two faces of a unbalanced world where tensions are past the critical point, with predictable outcomes. Always looking for meaning in a opaque world, Lee Chang-Dong made a contemporary and universal fable, superbly played and directed, of which we shall remember a topless and high in the sky dancing scene, filmed at a magical time. The last sequence shot isn’t bad either, to conclude with power a 2h30 long movie really well put together.