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Thrill Gala in association with Sight & Sound

Burning

Lee Chang-dong (Poetry) wowed Cannes with this spellbinding, richly complex thriller about obsession, class conflict and suppressed male rage.

Dir Lee Chang-dong
Prod Lee Chang-dong, Lee Jun-dong
Scr Lee Chang-dong, Oh Jung-mi
With Yoo Ah-in, Jeon Jong-seo, Steven Yeun
South Korea
2018
148min
Subtitles
UK Distribution Thunderbird Releasing

Jongsu’s (Yoo Ah-in) unremarkable day-to-day life is pleasantly disrupted when a chance meeting with quirky childhood friend Haemi (Jeon Jong-seo) sparks a promise of romance. Soon to depart on a trip to Africa, Haemi asks Jongsu to cat-sit, which he dutifully does, even though the animal remains stubbornly elusive (does it even exist?). Anticipating their reunion, Jongsu is surprised at the airport to find Haemi arriving with the charismatic Ben (Steven Yeun), whom she met on the trip. No match for the poised and obviously wealthy Ben, Jongsu’s jealousy at the shift in Haemi’s affections builds over subsequent weeks. Based on a Haruki Murakami short story, screenwriter Oh Jung-Mi and Lee have fashioned a lean slow-burner: gripping, elliptical and intriguingly ambiguous. Pitch-perfect performances from the three leads are intimately captured by cinematograper Hong Kyung-Pyo, his camera also revelling in the visual poetry of every environment. With a missing girl, a mysterious cat, an arsonist and a possible murder, director Lee expertly controls the tension until the breathtaking, explosive finale.

Tricia Tuttle

Additional information

See also Screen Talk: Lee Chang-dong

The introduction and Q&A will be BSL interpreted at the screening on Fri 19 Oct.


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