Friday, September 14, 2018

Review: BEAUTIFUL Explores the Ugly Depths of Desire


By Pierce Conran

Beauty and obsession go under the knife in Juhn Jai-hong’s debut Beautiful (2008), a clinical observation of desire that was both produced by Kim Ki-duk and based on his original story. Lensed with a scopophilic yet detached gaze, it is more than a little reminiscent of the controversial auteur’s body of work.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Review: SPECIAL ANNIE Awkwardly Switches From Subject to Artist


By Pierce Conran

Ten years after her feature debut What Are We Waiting For?, documentarian Kim Hyun-kung returns with an intimate film that is both a portrait of a HIV-positive New Yorker and a filmmaker uncertain of her aims. Awkwardly straddling the border between human interest story and self-interest, Special Annie is a lively if curiously narcissistic sophomore effort.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Review: ASSASSINATION Shoots Up a Storm With Stuffed to the Gills Spy Yarn


By Pierce Conran

After what had been a slow year Korean cinema received a huge shot of adrenaline with Assassination, the latest from Choi Dong-hoon, which ushered in the high season at the 2015 box office. A considerable chunk of the country's biggest stars throw themselves into the director's high octane Colonial Era action-thriller that swaps out his usual caper shenanigans for an operatic espionage yarn.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Review: BAD GUYS ALWAYS DIE Suffers A Slow Death


By Pierce Conran

One of the more high profile among the many China-Korea collaborations of the last few years (prior to the THAAD-related meldown in relations), Bad Guys Always Die teams Taiwanese star Chen Bolin with top Korean actress Son Ye-jin in an action-comedy (leaning more towards the later) set on Jeju Island, an extremely popular holiday spot for both Koreans and Chinese tourists.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Review: RIGHT NOW, WRONG THEN, Stars Shine in Classic Hong Sangsoo


By Pierce Conran

Following Hong Sangsoo's career guarantees for viewers, at the very least, one thing - developing a keen eye for detail. The auteur's films are remarkably similar to one another, from their lecherous male director/professor characters and conversations over bottles of soju, all the way down to their repeating details and occasional (but abrupt) camera zooms and pans.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Review: COLLECTIVE INVENTION Asks the Right Questions, But Has None of the Answers


By Pierce Conran

Wrapping a raft of social issues plaguing modern Korean society into a simple allegory, Collective Invention, a quirky comedy-drama with dashes of the same humor found in Bong Joon-ho's work, is a succinct but relatively straightforward affair. The setting is ripe for social commentary, but none of the observations rise above the superficial and ultimately the film is let down by a storyline that feels underdeveloped and ends on a wishy-washy note of false hope.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Review: REACH FOR THE SKY Goes There and Beyond


By Pierce Conran

The last few BIFFs have each afforded us one great documentary (Non-Fiction Diary, Factory Complex), and 2015 proved to be no exception with the discovery of the timely Reach for the SKY, a compelling look at a common but disastrous problem at the root of modern Korean society - competitive education. Constructed like a thriller and featuring a taut and ominous mise-en-scene, this joint production between Korea and Belgium is gripping from the start and builds to a devastating climax.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Review: ORDINARY PEOPLE Offers Tired Gags in Familiar Situations


By Pierce Conran

Three years after his debut Over and Over Again, director Kim Byung-june returned to Busan with a much livelier effort that strives to mix social realism and situational crime comedy. Aping the lowbrow comic efforts of Korea's commercial realm, Ordinary People looks to punch above its weight but by carrying over the issues that marred his debut and juggling a jumble of themes, Kim's latest strikes a discordant tone that is unlikely to move the masses.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Review: MEMORIES OF THE SWORD, Remembering Better Sword Fighting Flicks


By Pierce Conran

The wild card in the quartet of major Korean releases released in 2014's high summer season (alongside Assassination, Veteran and The Beauty Inside), the star-driven period spectacle Memories of The Sword proved to be a perplexing experience with jarring tonal shifts and unclear aims. Not even Lee Byung-hun and Jeon Do-yeon, two of Korea's most dependable stars, rise above the material, while newcomer Kim Go-eun is an awkward anchor to the film's emotional heft.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Review: OWNERLESS FLOWER UHWUDONG Can't Choose Between Erotica And Drama


By Pierce Conran

Thirty years after Lee Jang-ho's landmark film Eoh Wu-dong (available to watch for free on the Korean Film Archive's Youtube channel), a period ero that became a surprise critical and commercial hit in 1985, Lee Soo-sung offers up his own version of the tale, called Ownerless Flower Uhwudong (different spelling, same name), which had a limited theatrical run earlier after its festival premiere at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival in 2015.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Review: ANGRY PAINTER Presents Artsy Revenge Erotica


By Pierce Conran

Following his trip From Seoul to Varanasi in 2011, arthouse filmmaker Jeon Kyu-hwan took a bigger leap overseas with Angry Painter, an indie tale of revenge and despondency that spends much of its running time trapping through the cold climes of Estonian capital Tallinn.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Review: TRAIN TO BUSAN Rides the Rails With the Undead


By Pierce Conran

For his live-action debut Train to Busan, indie animation director Yeon Sang-ho, whose films The King of Pigs and The Fake have drawn international acclaim, has taken the zombie thriller, stuck it into the claustrophobic confines of a train, and taken aim at Korea's government and its hierarchical divides. A tense and inventive mix of genre thrills and social anxiety, Train to Busan is a Korean blockbuster with an unusually clear focus.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Review: THE TREACHEROUS Sexes Up History In Convoluted King's Court Potboiler


By Pierce Conran

History gets a savage makeover in The Treacherous, a period offering from Korea detailing the tyrannical reign of King Yeonsan, long known as the most despotic ruler of the Joseon Era. High on provocation and low on historical accuracy, this work from genre-hopping veteran Min Kyu-dong seeks both to titillate and to offer a serious examination of a notorious King's rule and the complicated machinations in his court.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Review: THE WORLD OF US, A Complex And Compelling Children's Tale


By Pierce Conran

Following the enormous promise shown in her terrific shorts Guest (2011) and Sprout (2013), director Yoon Ga-eun delivers in spades with her feature-length debut The World of Us, a beautiful look at the undulating friendships and rivalries between a trio of 10-year-old girls. Yoon returned to the Generations program of the Berlin International Film Festival, where Sprout was awarded the Crystal Bear for Best Short Film in 2014.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Review: THE BEAUTY INSIDE, High Concept Melo Is as Glib as Its Title


By Pierce Conran

A corporate-sponsored high concept web series gets the glossy Korean melodrama treatment in The Beauty Inside, top romantic offering of summer 2015. Featuring a laundry list of Korean stars all playing the same character, this debut film by music video director Baik stays very true to its source material, while also expanding it with familiar local melodramatic elements.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Review: NORTHERN LIMIT LINE Mistakes Nationalism For Narrative


By Pierce Conran

2014 gave us the nationalist call-to-arms Roaring Currents and, following its record-breaking run, the following summer unsurprisingly treated us to its own entree of patriotic balderdash, the melee of melodrama and jingoism that is Northern Limit Line. Going right for the tear ducts, this limp cash cow often feels more like a TV drama than the naval thriller it pretends to be.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Review: HERSTORY Foregrounds Sensational Cast in Best Comfort Women Tale Yet (by a Margin)


By Pierce Conran

One of the most sensitive issues in Korean society over the past few years has the been the acknowledgement of the plight of the Korean comfort women that were forced into sexual servitude by the Japanese military during World War II. Naturally, stories of these women have quickly found their way to the big screen, but while they've experienced widespread success, the films themselves have for the most part been terribly manipulative. Min Kyu-dong's Herstory is the latest addition to the genre, but unlike last year's calculating but enormously popular I Can Speak, this powerful tale proves to the most affecting and sincere of the bunch, by a country mile.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Review: THE SPY GONE NORTH, Bold and Sumptuous Espionage Yarn Eschews Action for Geopolitical Intrigue


By Pierce Conran

Following his period action blockbuster Kundo: The Age of the Rampant in 2014, Yoon Jong-bin is back in the summer season lineup with his 90s-set espionage drama The Spy Gone North, which bowed earlier this year as part of the midnight lineup of the Cannes Film Festival. A timely though occasionally dense tale of covert agents and behind-closed-doors deals, the film employs detailed production values and a fascinating geopolitical context in a year that has seen the present-day Koreas draw closer than ever before.

Review: INTIMATE ENEMIES Marks Low-Point For Im Sang-soo


By Pierce Conran

In a bid to branch out to a wider audience following the tepid critical and commercial response to 2012's The Taste of Money, director Im Sang-soo returned with the spirited but borderline incoherent action-comedy Intimate Enemies in 2015.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Locarno 2018 Review: HOTEL BY THE RIVER, A Wonderfully Performed New Drama from Hong Sangsoo


By Pierce Conran

Six months after the premiere of Grass at the Berlinale, prolific auteur Hong Sangsoo is back with another black and white drama which once again reunites him with his leading actress Kim Min-hee. Having just debuted at the Locarno International Film Festival, where it picked up the Best Actor Award for lead Ki Joo-bong, Hotel by the River employs less narrative trickery than most of the director's films and builds from a series of slight vignettes into a moving story of an ageing poet trying to take stock of his life in what may be his waning days.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

BiFan 2018 Review: BEAUTIFUL VAMPIRE Bites Into Endearing and Quirky Horror Romcom


By Pierce Conran

Combining the stylings of a young Park Chan-wook with the emotional sensibilities of the Korean drama world, debut feature Beautiful Vampire stood out from the crop of local indie genre features making their debuts at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival this year (BiFan). Director Jude Jung imbues a playful style into a low-budget if thin genre comedy that features a compelling turn from rising name Jung Yeon-ju.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Review: ALONG WITH THE GODS: THE LAST 49 DAYS Sacrifices Focus for Franchise-Building


By Pierce Conran

I'll admit that eight months ago I may have brought a certain amount of prejudice with me when I went to see Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds, the fantasy epic blockbuster that would become the second most successful Korean film of all time. Rewatching the film earlier this month, I realize my initial assessment was a little harsh and that it was more effective and engaging than I initially gave it credit for. This time around I went in with an open mind, twice, before collecting my thoughts. So I feel quite confident when I say that, sadly, Along the the Gods: The Last 49 Days is the bigger but far less successful half of Korea's first two-part blockbuster (though this may not have much of an impact on its financial prospects).

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Review: THREE SUMMER NIGHT Strips Down To Bikinis And Cheap Jokes


By Pierce Conran

Bikini bods, thugs and knuckleheads cross paths under the summer sun in the latest from Korean comedy maestro Kim Sang-jin. Just as chaotic as his earlier output but with less of an edge, Kim brings his trademark cause-and-effect comedy brand to Three Summer Night, a diverting yet forgettable spin on The Hangover.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Review: INSANE Shoots Down the Middle


By Pierce Conran

Released early in 2016, the surprise hit Insane is the sixth film from versatile director Lee Cheol-ha. Employing a less than original premise, this thriller turns out to be a middle-of-the-road attempt that pales in comparison to a slew of stronger titles in what was a strong year for Korean thrillers.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Review: UNWANTED BROTHER Puts Onus On Characters In Familiar Setting


By Pierce Conran

After nearly a decade away from the director's chair, Shim Kwang-jin returned with an unhurried take on a common tale of a lowlife manipulating those around him to pay a debt. Propped up by a few fresh spins on the well-trodden material and some earthy performances, Unwanted Brother is a worthwhile character study with subtle yet clear social overtones which debuted at the Jeonju International Film Festival in 2015.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Review: ISLAND, An Elegiac Arthouse Mystery


By Pierce Conran

A man travels to Jeju Island, planning to kill himself in his grandparents' abandoned home, in the most intriguing Korean film to grace the Jeonju International Film Festival in 2015. A lushly filmed and thoroughly engrossing mystery channeling local family melodrama norms along with surprising genre tropes and themes of the loss in a hermetic urban society, Island is a deliberately paced and ambitious arthouse production from sophomore auteur Park Jin-seong.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Review: THE DEAL, A Serviceable But Generic Korean Revenge Thriller


By Pierce Conran

Korea delivers yet another serviceable revenge thriller with The Deal, a well-oiled but overly familiar addition to the longstanding local genre staple. With young women violently murdered during downpours and Kim Sang-kyung once again playing a hapless detective at his wit's end, the film immediately calls to mind modern classic Memories of Murder, an inevitable comparison but a tough act to live up to.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Review: THE HANDMAIDEN, Park Chan-wook's Deeply Engrossing and Highly Sexual Tale of Female Sexuality


By Pierce Conran

Following his Hollywood foray Stoker, Park Chan-wook returns to (mostly) home soil for his sumptuous and sensual adaptation of Sarah Waters' Fingersmith. Transposing the novel's setting from Victorian England to 1930s Korea and Japan, when the former was a colony of the latter, The Handmaiden is a deeply engrossing, highly sexual and at times darkly humorous tale of female sexuality brought to life in spectacular fashion.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Review: YOURSELF AND YOURS Finds Hong Sang-soo in Wry and Perplexing Mood


By Pierce Conran

Celebrated indie auteur Hong Sang-soo returns to Toronto with his 18th film Yourself and Yours. Once again featuring artists boozing their way through a series of eateries as they lament over their personal woes, his latest work echoes the themes he's repeated throughout his career. Yet there's a darker than usual tone and less humanity on display here in a duplicitous narrative that appears to deliberately toy with its audience.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Review: THE WAILING, A Bone-Chilling, Thunderous Descent Into Hell


By Pierce Conran

After turning the Korean thriller on its head with The Chaser and The Yellow Sea, director Na Hong-jin has reinvented himself again, aggressively pushing against the boundaries of genre cinema with The Wailing. A deafening descent into hell, it may also be the best Korean film since Lee Chang-dong's Poetry.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Review: KARAOKE CRAZIES Kills It


By Pierce Conran

In Korea, few things are more important than karaoke. With thousands of karaoke bars, open all hours, littering every corner of the country, it's an activity that reaches every part of society, servicing hoards of stressed salary workers, bored teenagers or oftentimes a more licentious clientele. Karaoke is a frequent feature of Korean films, but in Karaoke Crazies, Korea's national pastime comes out front and center, serving as the focal point of an infectious blend of drama, comedy, thriller and absurdity.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Review: THE HIMALAYAS Swaps Snowflakes For Tears


By Pierce Conran

For those looking for an expedition drama, be warned that despite its title, The Himalayas is first and foremost a melodrama. One concerning brotherhood, family and, above all, coping with grief. Himalayan expedition films seem to be in vogue at the moment, with 2015 already yielding Baltasar Kormákur's Everest and Japanese drama Everest: The Summit of the Gods due out in a few months, but Lee Suk-hoon's picture is more concerned with relationships than it is with the technicalities of mountaineering.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Review: THE TIGER, A Gory, Gorgeous Battle To The Death


By Pierce Conran

Following the record-breaking success of Roaring Currents, Choi Min-sik returns to screens in another big-budget period epic, this time hunting down the last Korean tiger (as opposed to the last tiger in Korea, because this feline clearly has a national identity) in Park Hong-joon's end-of-year release The Tiger.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Review: THE BACCHUS LADY Gracefully Explores Bounty of Taboo Subjects


By Pierce Conran

Veteran actress Youn Yuh-jung, star of such classics as Kim Ki-young's Woman of Fire and The Insect Woman, takes on perhaps her boldest role yet in The Bacchus Lady. Directed by E J-yong, appearing in the Berlinale program for the fifth time, this surprising 3D drama was made within the sanctuary of the Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA).

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Review: INSIDE MEN, A Political Thriller That Goes For The Jugular


By Pierce Conran

The year is almost up, the box office has been tallied and the people have spoken. Stories of greedy corporate heirs, crooked clergy, conniving journalists and dirty politicians have risen to the top of the pile, each more acerbic than the last. But 2015 ends with a bang and one of the darkest, most fiercely critical mainstream Korean films of recent memory. Woo Min-ho ably surpasses his previous efforts with third feature Inside Men, which also marks a comeback of sorts for the embattled star Lee Byung-hun, who has spent much of the year in tabloid columns for the wrong reasons.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Busan 2017 Review: HOME Settles in for Pleasant if Predictable Family Drama


By Pierce Conran


Busan-set family melodrama Home doesn't stray from stock themes of Korean dramas yet its endearing young cast and genuine feelings make it a pleasant debut from newcomer Kim Jong-woo.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Busan 2017 Review: BLUEBEARD, Ambitious Chiller Lacks Tension


By Pierce Conran


Much like her debut The Uninvited, Lee Soo-yeon's latest film Bluebeard teases a dark genre storyline before turning off into more psychological territory through several layered images and a protagonist who isn't quite what he seems, played by Cho Jin-woong of A Hard Day. Unlike her impressive 2003 horror film, her second work feels less fresh and a lot more contrived.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Busan 2017 Review: TAKLAMAKAN, Introspective Drama Dashes Dreams


By Pierce Conran


Ko Eun-ki's sixth film Taklamakan, takes its name from a red desert in China which, as legend maintains, won't let you out once you step inside. In this dark and introspective drama, featuring characters that use the word as a metaphor for their everlasting love, we discover on a dusty hill that sets the stage for an irrevocable life choice that Taklamakan is in actuality a point of no return for the three main characters, played by Cho Seong-ha, Ha Yoon-kyung and Song Eun-ji in committed if dour performances.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Review: FORGOTTEN Mislays Its Mystery after Strong Start


By Pierce Conran

Modern thrillers live or die by their twists, and while an unexpected and well-executed surprise can elevate a film from mundane to memorable, many filmmakers forget that it's the journey there that counts. In his latest film Forgotten, director Chang Hang-jun gets it half right, crafting an effortlessly intriguing mystery --- until he starts to lift the curtain. Once that happens around the halfway point, the film offers one expository scene after the next. These scenes manage to both build an extraordinarily convoluted ruse before boiling it down to wearily familiar points, all the while lifting wholesale from the most devilishly twisted Korean thriller of them all.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Review: THE CHASE Leads Us Down Familiar Path


By Pierce Conran

An intriguing, if admittedly low-key twist on the Korean serial killer chiller never really comes together in the mediocre The Chase, the third film from The Con Artists helmer Kim Hong-sun. Leading man Baek Yoon-sik (of Save the Green Planet fame) lays on a heavy accent as he shuffles through an incongruous medley of gore and levity that rarely strays from its middle-of-the-road trajectory.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Review: THE SWINDLERS Cons Viewers Out of Their Time


By Pierce Conran

Stars Hyun Bin and Yoo Ji-tae go toe-to-toe in this month's The Swindlers, a loose and jazzy caper thriller that mines Korea's abundant fascination with grifters. Or at least that's what it attempts to do, as this blatant ripoff of the work of director Choi Dong-hoon (Tazza: The High Rollers, The Thieves) is a grating star vehicle that smacks of smug ineptitude and a whole lot of cut corners.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Review: GONJIAM: HAUNTED ASYLUM May Scare You Away from Hospitals for Good


By Pierce Conran

The history of Korean horror was rewritten this year by the most unlikely of contenders, as a low-budget found footage chiller became one of the top-selling K-horrors of all time. Without the benefit of any stars, Epitaph co-director Jung Bum-sik struck box office gold with Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum, which fell shy of only Kim Jee-won's A Tale of Two Sisters on the all-time local horror chart.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Review: THE RUNNING ACTRESS Dashes to Victory


By Pierce Conran

Ever since picking up a Best New Actor Prize from the Venice International Film Festival for Oasis in 2002, Moon So-ri has been known as one of the top performers in the Korean film industry. Now, after impressing viewers and critics alike over the years, in a range of indie and commercial fare, Moon proves herself to be equally adept behind the camera, following the release of her charming, hilarious and at times poignant feature debut The Running Actress.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Review: BE WITH YOU, Pleasant Fantasy Drama Stays the Course


By Pierce Conran

The Korean fantasy romance, a genre that has spawned modern classics such as Il Mare and Ditto, has fallen on hard times in recent years but makes a strong case for a return to form with Be With You, an engaging new vehicle for stars Son Ye-jin and So Ji-sub.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Review: LITTLE FOREST Will Have You Yearning for the Simple Life


By Pierce Conran

In Korean cinema, when characters retreat to the countryside things generally don't work out too well for them, but in Yim Soon-rye's new drama Little Forest, a young woman regains her spirit, and as she does so, many viewers will leave the theater with a desire for the simple life. This adaptation of a popular Japanese manga (already adapted into a two-part Japanese film) gives Kim Tae-ri her first lead role since her breakout part in Park Chan-wook's The Handmaiden and offers a distinct Korean flavor in what is a cinematic love letter to 'slow living'.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Jeonju 2018 Review: A GOOD BUSINESS, NK Defector Doc Poses Fascinating Ethical Quandaries


By Pierce Conran

Some of the best documentaries are those that don't tell you what to think but choose instead to explore a subject from different viewpoints and angles, let the images speak for themselves and give the viewer a chance to make up their own mind.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Jeonju 2018 Review: WINTER'S NIGHT Takes a Colorful and Introspective Trip Down Memory Lane


By Pierce Conran

Returning with his third film to the festival where he picked up the top Korean Competition prize for his debut A Fresh Start, director Jang Woo-jin delivers his most carefully designed work to date with Winter's Night, one of this year's Jeonju Cinema Projects at the Jeonju International Film Festival. Yet for all its artistry and clear merit, a film with a strong opening act slowly loses its way as intriguing threads become muddled through thickly layered symbolic overtures that recall a great many similar Korean independent works, not to mention Jang's previous film Autumn, Autumn.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Jeonju 2018 Review: GRADUATION Scores Top Marks for Its Young Director and Star


By Pierce Conran

Making films is hard anywhere, but in Korea, where so many youths dream of entering what is a successful yet relatively small industry, it's a particularly tricky proposition. Thus it comes as little surprise that so many debut features focus on the hardships of making films. Korean film festivals have provided a platform to many of these works over the years, including Lee Byoung-heon's Cheer Up, Mr. Lee, Park Joon-bum's Director's Cut and Baek Jae-ho's We Will Be OK. Jeonju featured another one this year, but Graduation, from the 23-year-old Hui Ji-ye, offers a unique and refreshing view on the subject, despising hewing to many similar themes.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Jeonju 2018 Review: HELLO DAYOUNG, Korean Comedy Goes Full Chaplin


By Pierce Conran

For the third year on the trot, and after already receiving two prizes, director Ko Bong-soo returns to the Jeonju International Film Festival with his third work, Hello Dayoung. Largely working with the same troupe of actors, who are taking turns in the lead roles of his films, Ko's latest maintains the comic bent and sweetness of his prior works but this loving homage to silent comedy ditches his unique colloquial dialogue. Shot in black and white and sped up to achieve the accelerated frame rate of the silent era, this 62-minute romantic comedy is all heart but doesn't always work as a feature.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Review: BELIEVER, Explosive DRUG WAR Remake Puts Faith in Livewire Cast


By Pierce Conran

Korean noir gets an action makeover in Believer, the explosive and hugely entertaining local remake of Johnny To's mainland Chinese crime saga Drug War. A parade of Korean character actors sink their teeth into deliciously over-the-top characters, including the beloved Kim Joo-hyuk, in his final screen role (completed just before his death in a car crash last October), in a retelling that both improves on and falls short of the original.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Cannes 2018 Review: BURNING, a Slow Burn for the Ages


By Pierce Conran

Eight years after his phenomenal drama Poetry, Lee Chang-dong makes a long-awaited return to the Cannes competition with his sixth film Burning, an adaptation of Haruki Murakami's short story 'Barn Burning'. Dense with symbolism, this tour de force burrows towards the ineffable as it gradually builds palpable tension through a mystery that begins to consume its lead character. Yoo Ah-in and Steven Yeun both deliver career-best work while newcomer Jeon Jong-seo is a marvel as the girl who finds herself caught between them.