Burning (film)

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Burning
Burning.png
Theatrical release poster in South Korea
Hangul버닝
Revised RomanizationBeoning
Directed byLee Chang-dong
Produced byLee Joon-dong
Lee Chang-dong
Screenplay byOh Jung-mi
Lee Chang-dong
Based on"Barn Burning"
by Haruki Murakami
StarringYoo Ah-in
Steven Yeun
Jeon Jong-seo
Music byMowg
CinematographyHong Kyung-pyo
Edited byKim Hyeon
Kim Da-won
Production
company
Pinehouse Film
Now Film
NHK
Distributed byCGV Arthouse[1] (South Korea)
Well Go USA Entertainment (USA)
Release date
  • May 16, 2018 (2018-05-16) (Cannes)
  • May 17, 2018 (2018-05-17) (South Korea)
  • October 26, 2018 (2018-10-26) (USA)
Running time
148 minutes
CountrySouth Korea
LanguageKorean
Box officeUS$6.8 million[2]

Burning (Hangul버닝; RRBeoning) is a 2018 South Korean psychological drama mystery film directed, produced and co-written by Lee Chang-dong. Based on the short story "Barn Burning" from The Elephant Vanishes by author Haruki Murakami, it stars Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun, and Jeon Jong-seo.

The film premiered on May 16, 2018, at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, where it competed for the Palme d'Or. It was released the following day in South Korea, and on October 26, 2018, in the United States. It received critical acclaim, particularly for its ambiguous narrative and performances. It was also selected as the South Korean entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards; although it was not nominated, it became the first Korean film to make it to the final nine-film shortlist.

Plot[edit]

Lee Jong-su performs odd jobs in Paju. One day he runs into Shin Hae-mi, a childhood neighbor and classmate whom he does not remember at first. She tells him she had plastic surgery and is now attractive. Later, she tells him about her upcoming trip to Africa, and asks him to feed her cat while she is away. Before Hae-mi's departure, Jong-su's father, a bovine farmer, got tangled in disagreeable legal affairs, and Jong-su had to return to the farm. Jong-su passes by Hae-mi's apartment, where he receives instructions about feeding the cat. Later, they have sex in Hae-mi's apartment.

After Hae-mi departs, Jong-su dutifully feeds her cat - although he never sees it. He also begins habitually masturbating in her apartment. One day Hae-mi calls, saying she had become stranded at Nairobi Airport for three days after a terror warning. When Jong-su comes to pick her up, she arrives with Ben, whom she met and bonded with during the crisis. The three go out for dinner, where Hae-mi recalls a sunset she witnessed during her travels. Moved by the memory, she cries and confesses that she wanted to disappear. Ben is well-off and confident, though it is never entirely clear what he does for a living. Jong-su, an aspiring writer struggling to get by and taking care of his family farm while his father is in prison, envies Ben and his relationship with Hae-mi from afar.

Hanging out at Jong-su's farm, Hae-mi recalls a childhood memory wherein Jong-su rescued her after she fell into a well near her home, which Jong-su does not remember. The trio smoke cannabis and Hae-mi dances topless. After Hae-mi has fallen asleep on the sofa, Ben confesses a strange hobby: Every two months, he burns an abandoned greenhouse. He notes that Jong-su's rural neighborhood is full of greenhouses. When asked when his next burning will take place, Ben claims it will be very soon and close to Jong-su's house. Jong-su tells Ben that he loves Hae-mi, but later berates Hae-mi for disrobing in front of other men. Hae-mi quietly gets into Ben's car and as they leave Jong-su tells Ben he will keep an eye on the greenhouses in his area.

Over the following days, Jong-su keeps watch around the neighborhood to see if any greenhouses burn down, but none do. One afternoon, in front of an intact greenhouse that he happens to be inspecting he receives a call from Hae-mi, which cuts off after a few seconds of ambiguous noises. Jong-su becomes worried as she does not answer any of his calls afterwards, and begins to investigate after her phone number becomes disconnected. Eventually he convinces the landlady to let him into Hae-mi's apartment so that he can feed her cat. Hae-mi's apartment is unnaturally clean and all signs of the cat are gone. Jong-su begins stalking Ben, staking out his apartment and following him to see where he goes. When he sees Ben's Porsche parked outside a restaurant he goes inside to confront him. A young woman suddenly approaches the table, apologizing to Ben for being late. As the three of them leave the restaurant, Jong-su asks Ben if he has heard from Hae-mi and whether she had gone on a trip. Ben says he has not heard from her, and he doubts she had gone on a trip.

One day, Ben finds Jong-su outside his place and invites him up to his apartment, where he finds that he has a new cat which he claims is a rescued stray. Jong-su's suspicions are raised further when on a visit to the toilet he finds a watch, similar to the one he had given Hae-mi, hidden in a drawer. Shortly afterwards, Ben's cat runs out of the apartment and Jong-su finds that it answers to the same name as Hae-mi's cat. Jong-su asks to meet Ben in the countryside, claiming he is with Hae-mi. After Ben sees that Hae-mi is not there, Jong-su stabs Ben several times, killing him. Jong-su douses Ben's car and body in gasoline and sets it all aflame, tossing his blood-soaked clothes in as well. He stumbles naked to his truck and drives off.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Developed as the work of the international project which was based on one of Haruki Murakami's short stories in The Elephant Vanishes, "Barn Burning".[3][4][5] Production was set to begin in November 2016 but was delayed by a dispute between Murakami and NHK, which owns the rights to many of Murakami's works.[6][7][8][9]

Burning is based on Murakami's short story Barn Burning. In October 2016, however, Lee said, "it is a story about young people in today’s world. When they think of their lives and the world, it must feel like a mystery", at the Busan International Film Festival.[6][8] In September 2017, the studio said that it had only brought the basic outlines of the story.[10]

In 2016, it was thought that Gang Dong-won and Yoo Ah-in will feature in the film, but an official announcement was not made.[7]

On September 5, 2017, it was announced that Yoo Ah-in has been confirmed for the role of Jong-su.[11][12] Three days later, newcomer Jeon Jong-seo was cast for the role of Hae-mi based on auditions which began in August.[13][14][15] On September 20, Steven Yeun joined the film as Ben.[16][17]

Principal photography began on September 11, 2017.[18] Filming wrapped on January 30, 2018 in Paju.[19]

Release[edit]

Cast and director at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

The first film directed by Lee Chang-dong in eight years,[6] Burning was widely predicted by film critics and insiders to be an in-competition entry at the upcoming 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Lee's 2007 film Secret Sunshine and his 2010 film Poetry both premiered as in-competition entries at the Cannes Film Festival.[20][21] In April 2018, Burning was among the lineup of in-competition entries announced for the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.[22][23]

The film was sold to more than 100 countries and territories at the Marché du Film in Cannes Film Festival. This included Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Greece, Poland and Turkey.[24]

In South Korea, Burning premiered in theaters on May 17, 2018.[25] It was released in the United States on 26 October 2018.[26]

Netflix will release Burning on its streaming service on April 29, 2019.[27]

Home media[edit]

Distributor Well Go USA released Burning on Blu-ray and DVD on March 5, 2019.[28][29]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

As of 7 March 2019, Burning has grossed $719,772 in the United States and Canada, and $6.1 million in other territories (including $4.2 million in Japan), for a total worldwide gross of $6.8 million.[2]

On its opening day in South Korea, Burning attracted 52,324 viewers in total, ranking second at the box office behind Deadpool 2 (248,904 viewers).[30] Over the first weekend of its release, Burning received 220,717 admissions, placing third at the local box office.[31] By the end of its run, the film recorded 528,168 admissions in its home country.[32]

In its opening weekend in France, the film attracted 53,876 audience in total, ranking third at the box office behind Mile 22.[33][34]

In its opening weekend in the United States, the film made $26,130 from two theaters. The film had its widest release in its third weekend, playing in 27 theaters and grossing $76,608.[26]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 94% from 171 reviews, with an average rating of 8.62/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Burning patiently lures audiences into a slow-burning character study that ultimately rewards the viewer's patience -- and subverts many of their expectations."[35] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 90 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[36]

Los Angeles Times's Justin Chang called it "a masterpiece of psychological unease— the most lucid and absorbing new movie I've seen this year, as well as the most layered and enigmatic."[37] The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw called it "a gripping nightmare" and lavished praise on how "Lee creates a sense of mood and place with masterly flair."[38] Sight & Sound rated it the third best film of 2018,[39] and Jessica Kiang wrote in her Cannes review, "The embers are banked up so gradually that it’s not until a few hours after the ending of this elusive, riveting masterpiece that you are far enough away to appreciate the scale of the conflagration."[40] Tim Robey in The Daily Telegraph observed, "This is Lee’s closest ever film to a thriller, but it defies expectations, offering multiple, murky solutions to a set of mysteries at once."[41] Vulture's Emily Yoshida praised the film for its "perception of the rich vampirizing youth — not directly biologically or physically or financially, but emotionally" but considered that "Burning lost its steam in its second half".[42] Peter Debruge of Variety suggested that "[t]he degree to which Burning succeeds will depend largely on one's capacity to identify with the unspoken but strongly conveyed sense of jealousy and frustration its lower-class protagonist feels".[43] Rolling Stone's Peter Travers wrote that the film "sizzles with a cumulative power that will knock the wind out of you" and declared that "Lee has crafted a hypnotic and haunting film that transcends genre to dig deep into the human condition. You won’t be able to get it out of your head."[44]

Geoff Andrew of Time Out was similarly positive, hailing it as a "movie rich in teasing ambiguities and possible lies... Lee's interest lies not in crime-solving but in exploring Jongsu's emotional confusion... Both a slow-burn suspense drama and an intriguing enigma, his film is beautifully executed".[45] Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter reacted enthusiastically to the film, writing that "[t]his is a beautifully crafted film loaded with glancing insights and observations into an understated triangular relationship, one rife with subtle perceptions about class privilege, reverberating family legacies, creative confidence, self-invention, sexual jealousy, justice and revenge".[46]

Nick Pinkerton, writing in ArtForum, was more muted, writing that "Burning is strewn with all sorts of information whose exact meaning and validity is impossible to determine... a film with such a diffident, often passive protagonist must generate its tensions and attractions elsewhere—memorable supporting players, a tactile atmosphere, a complex sense of the social sphere, an emphatic emotionalism".[47]

The depiction of the female character Hae-mi in the film attracted some criticism. Tom Augustine of The New Zealand Herald wrote "The film's sweltering tension and commitment to its lack of easy answers is commendable, but less so is its treatment of women. The character of Hae-mi while well-performed is let down by writing that paints her as the worst kind of male-driven sexual fantasy. She only really exists to develop the male characters' arcs and to allow the camera to artfully leer over her."[48] However, Adam Nayman from Film Society of Lincoln Center[49] argued and emphasized for The Ringer that the story is "told fully from Jongsu's point of view," so "it's fair to ask whether Lee Chang Dong is cultivating true audience solidarity or urging us to understand the story exclusively through the lens of his hero's prejudices: to see Haemi and Ben as idealized and demonized figures, respectively."[50] Phoebe Chen of the Film Feminist Journal: Another Gaze, analyzed that Haemi's existence had a grander purpose in the film, and wrote, "If you know Burning is adapted from a Haruki Murakami short story, however loosely, you know that Haemi will vanish. The trope of the missing woman is built into Murakami's narrative DNA: her vanishing will preoccupy the protagonist, neurotically at first, then fade over the months and years to a dull malaise", and "The mystery of Haemi’s disappearance is technically 'solved', but becomes supplanted by one grander: the mystery of a world that tantalises with the hope of futurity while locking its millions of subjects in a cold impasse."[51] Alexandra Heller-Nicholas of Alliance of Women Film Journalists emphasized that the character of Hae-mi is much more than simply a missing woman as plot device but one of the most powerful parts of a film that casually yet firmly addresses the pressures on women, "While the film’s well-executed action and unflinching, profound exploration of its deeper thematic questions circle Jong-su and Ben with increasing intensity, it is this question of Hae-mi that drives the story. This is much, much more than simply a missing woman as plot device: one of the most powerful parts of a film that can comfortably boast a range of achievements is how casually yet firmly the film addresses the pressures on women – not just Hae-mi and her colleagues, but Jong-su's own mother – to live up to financially unsustainable images of femininity in contemporary South Korea."[52]

Accolades[edit]

Burning won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.[53] It became the highest-rated film in the history of Screen International’s Cannes jury grid.[54] Burning also won Best Foreign Language Film in Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Best Foreign Language Film in Toronto Film Critics Association and National Board of Review's Top Five Foreign Language Film. It went on to be nominated for three Asia Pacific Screen Awards, winning the Jury Grand Prize.[55][56] It was included on Roger Ebert's Great Movies.[57] It was nominated for eight Asian Film Awards, including Best Film, and won Best Director award.[58][59]

Burning was selected as the South Korean entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 91st Academy Awards; although it was not nominated, it became the first Korean film to make it to the final nine-film shortlist.[60][61]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Noh, Jean (May 23, 2018). "Cannes jury grid hit 'Burning' scores key deals including UK, Japan and Spain". Screen International. Retrieved May 24, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Beoning (2018)". The Numbers. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  3. ^ "Lee Chang-dong Lights Up Haruki Murakami Adaptation 'Burning'". Variety. 5 September 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  4. ^ Maher, Cian (November 4, 2018). "What makes Haruki Murakami's books so alluring, yet near-impossible to adapt". Polygon.
  5. ^ O'Connor, Rory (May 16, 2018). "Cannes 2018 Review: Lee Chang Dong's Burning turns Haruki Murakami Into A Frothy Page Turner". The Film Stage.
  6. ^ a b c "Lee Chang-dong Lights Up Haruki Murakami Adaptation 'Burning'". Variety. 5 September 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  7. ^ a b "LEE Chang-dong Announces New Project at BIFF". KOFIC. 21 September 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  8. ^ a b TongTongTv 통통영상 (10 October 2016). "이창동·허우 샤오시엔·고레에다 히로카즈 '아시아 영화 거장의 만남' (부산국제영화제, BIFF, 아시아영화의 연대를 말하다) [통통영상]" – via YouTube.
  9. ^ "'Burning' director Lee Chang-dong on his "ambiguous" Cannes Competition title".
  10. ^ "유아인 '버닝', 하루키 원작 '헛간을 태우다'는 어떤 내용인가". Mydaily (in Korean). 22 September 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  11. ^ "이창동 신작 '버닝' 유아인 출연 확정…9월 크랭크인[공식]". The Daily Sports (in Korean). 5 September 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  12. ^ "Yoo Ah-in joins cast of Lee Chang-dong film". Korea Joongang Daily. 6 September 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  13. ^ "Director Lee to release 'Burning' next year". Korea Joongang Daily. 21 August 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  14. ^ "[공식] 신예 전종서, 이창동 신작 '버닝' 파격 캐스팅…유아인과 호흡". The Sports Chosun (in Korean). 6 September 2017. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  15. ^ "Newcomer JEON Jong-seo Joins YOO Ah-in on LEE Chang-dong Project". KOFIC. 14 September 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  16. ^ "Steven Yeun to Join Yoo Ah-in's 'Burning'". SBS Star. 21 September 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  17. ^ "'Burning' Star Steven Yeun Gets Role He's 'Been Waiting For'". Variety. May 16, 2018.
  18. ^ "스티븐 연, 유아인 이어 이창동 신작 '버닝' 합류". The Daily Sports Seoul (in Korean). 20 September 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  19. ^ "Beo-ning". KOBIZ. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  20. ^ "Lee Chang-dong's latest film, 'Burning,' billed as possible Cannes lineup". Yonhap News Agency. 25 March 2018. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  21. ^ "'Burning' Teaser: Filmmaker Lee Chang-Dong Is Back With His First Film In 7 Years". The Playlist. 5 April 2018. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  22. ^ "Cannes Lineup Includes New Films From Spike Lee, Jean-Luc Godard". Variety. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  23. ^ "LEE Chang-dong Returns to Cannes Competition with BURNING". Korean Film Biz Zone. April 23, 2018.
  24. ^ "Lee Chang-dong's 'Burning' sold to over 100 countries at Cannes". Yonhap News Agency. 23 May 2018. Retrieved 2018-05-29.
  25. ^ "Lee Chang-dong's 'Burning' to hit screens". koreatimes. 8 April 2018. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  26. ^ a b "Burning (2018) - Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo.
  27. ^ Erbland, Kate (March 28, 2019). "Movies New to Netflix in April: 'Burning,' 'American Honey,' and Extended Version of 'Hateful Eight'". Indiewire. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  28. ^ "Burning: Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)". City On Fire. October 27, 2018. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  29. ^ "Well Go USA: Lee Chang-dong's Burning Heading to Blu-ray". Blu-ray. January 23, 2019. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  30. ^ "KoBiz - Korean film, news, actor, movie, cinema, location & Korean Film Archive". Korean Film Biz Zone.
  31. ^ Shim Sun-ah (May 21, 2018). "(LEAD) 'Deadpool 2' takes down 'Infinity War' at box office". Yonhap News Agency.
  32. ^ "BURNING (2018)". Korean Film Biz Zone.
  33. ^ "'버닝', 국내 흥행 실패 프랑스서 만회?…佛 박스오피스 3위". SBS News (in Korean). September 5, 2018. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  34. ^ "Burning". Allocine (in French). 2018. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  35. ^ "Burning (Beoning) (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  36. ^ "Burning reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  37. ^ Chang, Justin (2018-10-29). "Review: Lee Chang-dong's 'Burning' is a mesmerizing drama of rage, confusion and thwarted desire". Lost Angeles Times. Retrieved 2018-12-22.
  38. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (2018-05-17). "Burning review – male rage blazes a chilling trail on the Korean border". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2018-12-15.
  39. ^ "The best films of 2018". Sight & Sound. 2018-12-12. Retrieved 2018-12-15.
  40. ^ "Burning first look: Lee Chang-dong's film sets a noirish love triangle alight". Sight & Sound. Retrieved 2018-12-15.
  41. ^ Robey, Tim (2018-05-17). "Burning review: a daring study of class conflict and sexual longing that blazes with mystery". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-12-15.
  42. ^ Yoshida, Emily (2018-10-24). "Steven Yeun Makes His Leading-Man Korean Film Debut in Burning". www.vulture.com. Retrieved 2018-12-15.
  43. ^ Debruge, Peter (2018-05-17). "Film Review: 'Burning'". Variety. Retrieved 2018-12-15.
  44. ^ Travers, Peter (2018-10-24). "'Burning' Review: Love Triangles, Class Envy Fuel Three-Alarm Thriller". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2018-12-15.
  45. ^ Andrew, Geoff (2018-05-16). "Burning, directed by Lee Chang-Dong | Film review". Time Out London. Retrieved 2018-12-15.
  46. ^ McCarthy, Todd (2018-05-16). "'Burning': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-12-15.
  47. ^ Pinkerton, Nick (2018-10-25). "Mild Roast". www.artforum.com. Retrieved 2018-12-15.
  48. ^ Augustine, Tom. "Film Festival movie review: Burning". The New Zealand Herald.
  49. ^ Nayman, Adam (2018-09-11). "The Film Comment Podcast: Toronto One". Film Society of Lincoln Center. Retrieved 2018-12-17.
  50. ^ Nayman, Adam (2018-10-26). "'Burning' Is One of the Best Films of the Year". The Ringer. Retrieved 2018-12-17.
  51. ^ Chen, Phoebe (2018-11-14). "The Act of Taking: Lee Chang Dong's 'Burning'". Another Gaze. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  52. ^ Nicholas, Alexandra Heller (2018-10-02). "TIFF18 Review: BURNING — Alexander Heller Nicholas". Alliance of Women Film Journalists. Retrieved 2018-12-28.
  53. ^ "Cannes:'Burning' Wins Fipresci Top Prize". Variety. May 19, 2018.
  54. ^ Dalton, Ben (May 17, 2018). "'Burning' sets record score in history of Screen's Cannes jury grid". Screen Daily.
  55. ^ Frater, Patrick (29 October 2018). "'Shoplifters' Takes Top Prize at Asia Pacific Screen Awards". Variety. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  56. ^ "2018 APSA Nominess Announced". Asia Pacific Screen Awards. 17 October 2018. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  57. ^ Editors (11 December 2018). "THE TEN BEST FILMS OF 2018". Roger Ebert.
  58. ^ "13th Asian Film Awards Nominees Announced See Full List" (Press release). Asian Film Awards. January 11, 2019.
  59. ^ Chow, Vivienne (March 17, 2019). "'Shoplifters' Wins Best Picture at Asian Film Awards". Variety. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
  60. ^ Roxborough, Scott (7 September 2018). "Oscars: South Korea Selects 'Burning' for Foreign-Language Category". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  61. ^ "Academy Unveils 2019 Oscar Shortlists". The Hollywood Reporter. 17 December 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018.

External links[edit]