This South Korean psychological thriller follows the journey of Jong-soo, a young man who dreams of being a writer and works odd jobs around his city of Paju. One day, he runs into Hae-mi, his old classmate whom he doesn’t remember. The two reconnect and she asks Jong-soo to look after her cat while she leaves on a trip to Africa. Jong-soo obliges, though he never sees a cat in her apartment. When Hae-mi returns from her trip, she brings along Ben, a man she met during her travels. Jong-soo quickly comes to envy his easygoing nature, his wealth, and Hae-mi’s interest in him.
Ben introduces Jong-soo to his lifestyle, which becomes eerier as the story unravels. Jong-soo appears to be in the backseat when it comes to plot progression, though the sense of mystery is deepened by the vagueness surrounding his personality, his past, and his family’s situation. His relationship with Ben is an effective way of exploring class differences, and Hae-mi’s position between both of their desires plays a significant role in exposing their misogynistic attitudes.
The film’s vibrant cinematography is one of the main appeals of what sometimes feels like a long, drawn-out story (which may speak to the title). Here are some of the most captivating stills from Burning.