FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2018 -- Korean director Lee Chang-Dong's latest film experiments with class separation in Korea with a slow steady narrative that leads to a very interesting neo-noir ending.


It revolves around a struggling Korean young man, Lee Jong-su (well played by newcomer Ah-In Yoo) who's barely getting by on the fringe of Seoul; he's a wannabe writer. He encounters the cute Shine Hae-mi who immediately turns his head despite being a mystery wrapped in an enigma. The source of her income is a giant question mark and she boosts of a cat that nobody has seen.


She claims she remembers him as a child, so they get together. Then, poof! She goes to Africa for either a vacation or charity work... that really isn't clear.

When she returns, much to Jon-su's surprise she is now flaunting a new beau - Ben (Yeun Sang-yeop from Walking Dead). Ben is one of the nouveau riche from the tony Gangnam District of Seoul. He sports a Porsche while Jong-su plods around in a workman's van.


Ben seems okay until he tells them his hobby is arson. He likes to burn things, even claiming to have burnt a greenhouse near their childhood home on the bleak outskirts of Seoul. Ben constantly takes jabs at Jong-su's aspiration to be a writer, while avoiding questions about his income.


The second half of the two and a half hour film turns darker and presents the slow burn of of jealousy between Jong-su and Ben over Hae-mi's attention. Ben's lack of background disturbs Jong-su as he delves into Ben's life.


This is a well crafted, albeit long presentation with rock solid acting by the principles - especially Ah-In Yoo.


"Burning" (Beoning) is a rock solid mystery that might linger a bit long, considering the subtitles, but hits every nerve as the characters go from mysterious to dark with an end-of-film turn befitting the title. [Korean with English subtitles]   -- GRADE B+ --   GEOFF BURTON