South Korean director/co-writer Lee Chang-dong’s unconventional thriller is loosely based on Haruki Murakami’s 1992 short story “Barn Burning”. Ah-in Yoo stars as Jongsu, a poor young man who falls in love with a beautiful young dancer named Haemi Jong-seo Jun. He becomes angry and insecure when she becomes romantically entangled with Ben (Steven Yeun), an eccentric young millionaire who claims to be occasionally impelled to burn greenhouses.~Augustine Chay
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Rated 5 out of 5 stars
A wonderfully provocative thriller from S. Korea
Don’t be fooled by the sparse output of South Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-dong, who has made only five films since his debut feature in 1997, “Green Fish", a gangster film influenced by Martin Scorsese’s "Mean Streets". Lee is a major artist, one of the world's great filmmakers, and his slim oeuvre is partially explained by his being a novelist as well as having a long involvement with political activism -- even serving as South Korea’s Minister of Culture and Tourism for a few years. One of the great directors of women (winning many international awards for his previous three films “Oasis”, "Secret Sunshine” and "Poetry" – all three having women as central characters), "Burning" is his sixth feature, and arguably his richest if most obtuse. This time a male is his main character (while the mystery of Woman and her effect on the male is arguably its underlying main subject). He is a rather timid, weak-willed part-time worker named Lee Jong-su who runs into a young woman from his early schooldays. She is named Shin, loves pantomime, and asks him to feed her cat while she takes a trip to Africa. She leaves, and he proceeds to feed her cat daily – but never sees it. (Is there really a cat?) When Shin returns she brings back a male friend she had just met, an overconfident young man named Ben (a Gatsby-type mystery man played distantly by Steven Yeun of “The Walking Dead” fame), and then the drama begins: a sort-of psychological mystery that builds to a level of guessing what’s true and what's an illusion. Having already won 27 international film awards, this is a marvelous if perplexing film, with a long sequence of the three hanging out on a farm during an evocative twilight being the film’s great highlight (a scene that necessitated a month of shooting only a few minutes a day exactly at the ‘magic hour'). The conclusion of the film is tragic, and you’ll have to decide your own feelings about it, but this is a film worth seeing as well as requiring lots of time thinking about after.
This Blu-Ray edition simply offers the movie in better clarity than DVD. That is the only advantage of this over the DVD Special Edition release, which was loaded with behind-the-scenes bits. I know a lot of people don't bother with home video disc extra features, and I usually only watch those once, but this does not even have a menu or chapters. Most Mill Creek Direct produced discs are cheaply produced, without proper menus and with poor packaging. Still, if this is priced really low and you want to watch the movie with better clarity, it serves that purpose.
An intriguing take of Haruki Murakami's short stor
Acclaimed Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-dong returns after an eight year hiatus with a unique psychological mystery film based on the short story: "Barn Burning" by Haruki Murakami. Lee showcases a fascinating character study that at times becomes opaque to the viewer guessing where the plot involving a young man befriending an old friend who introduces him to a mysterious person. When his friend suddenly vanishes, he starts to believe that the mysterious person may have been involved. For viewers looking for a fresh take on the noir genre, this film won't disappoint as it comes highly recommend and a must-see!
This film by Lee Chang-Dong was superb. The cinematography was fantastic and deserves to be seen in a theater.
The selection of Ah-In Yoo, Steven Yeun and Jong-Seo Jun was fantastic. I applaud each one of them for their performance.
I am glad to have added it to my collection.
This Korean movie is set in and around Seoul, South Korea. The soundtrack is in Korean with English subtitles. Two young men, one very poor and the other very rich are bound together by a young woman committed to neither. The poor young man struggles to find himself and a relationship with the woman. This movie is a study of loneliness and studies it carefully.
This movie is gorgeously shot, amazingly acted and very methodically played out. I love this slow burn of a film and I whole heartedly believe it is worth your time and money. Take a chance if you're on the fence about this movie, you won't regret it.
Recommended by a friend, this Korean film packs a wallop of deeply fascinating characters and relationships while keeping the unnerving mystery of its secrets from those eager to spoiler. Go in unknowing and leave changed