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Burning (15)

Curators' Picks

Image of three people sitting on a patio

Somebody disappears; somebody else tries to work out why. This intriguing Korean film gives an enigmatic twist to a classic mystery-thriller set-up.

The mood of teasing uncertainty is established early on: Jong-su bumps into a childhood friend, Hae-mi. Only he doesn’t, not quite. He doesn’t recognise her, she spots him, hailing him from across the road: “I had plastic surgery! Pretty, right?” So is it her, or isn’t it? This is the first of the film’s many puzzles.

'Things do burn in Burning, but lest anyone be misled: this is a ‘thriller’ in the vein of Mulholland Drive or L’avventura, its thrills wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma… and of the slow-burn variety. Just a tip, but pay special attention to the unseen cat, and the bit where Hae-mi peels and eats an ‘invisible’ tangerine: the trick, she says, is not to pretend something’s there, but to forget that it isn’t…'

Tamara Anderson, Cinema Curator

South Korea 2018 Dir Lee Chang-dong 148 min

Please note: This film contains a sequence of flashing lights which might affect customers who are susceptible to photosensitive epilepsy.

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