Adapted from a Haruki Murakami short story, Lee Chang-dong’s Burning centres around Jong-su (Yoo Ah-in), an aspiring writer from the sticks now living in Seoul, who becomes embroiled in a love triangle of sorts with his former classmate Haemi (Jong-seo Jun) and her suave, wealthy friend Ben (Steven Yeun). Though superficially jovial, the trio’s interactions are profoundly uncomfortable to observe, with Jong-su clearly consumed by class consciousness and youthful insecurity. And then one day Hae-mi drops out of the tentative ménage à trois she instigated, leaving the two men awkwardly sizing each other up. There are direct references to The Great Gatsby, and shades of American Psycho in the depiction of Ben, but this minimalist thriller is so meticulously constructed and relentlessly riveting, it transcends its influences to stand on its own feet as a masterly exploration of fragile masculinity.

Burning | Directed by Lee Chang-dong (South Korea 2018) with Yoo Ah-in, Stephen Yeun. Starts June 6.

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