The cinematic alchemy of Burning transforms an abstract theory of liminality into something that an audience can feel in the pulse of every scene and then, perhaps, in their own world.
Much of what I saw in 2018 reflected a related range of anxieties—about difference, catastrophe, isolation, belonging. Maybe that’s every year. Likely it’s too soon to tell. But among the things I saw, in a year of personal and political upheaval and ambivalence, these are the moments that solicited my attention most memorably.
Your loyal critic-on-the-scene returns this year older and wiser, having finally gotten the hang of this 10-day endurance test in his fourth go-round.
Burning hinges on the disappearance of a young woman, which suggests that the film should be classified as a mystery, the genre that most actively encourages viewers to interpret the evidence placed in front of them. But the ambiguity of human relationships—of what we see, of what we don’t see, and of what we choose to ignore—is the film’s biggest mystery.