It's been eight years since South Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-dong directed the highly acclaimed Poetry, and now he's finally back with Burning. The first trailer gives little insight into the mystery drama, but that's to be expected. With that being said, there's definitely something strange going on between the three main characters, played by Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun, and Jeon Jong-seo. The movie is based off of Haruki Murakami's short story entitled Barn Burning.
Burning sees Yoo Ah-in's Lee Jong-su going about his daily routine when he by chance meets Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-seo), who is his former childhood neighbor, though he can't remember her. They end up reconnecting and she later returns from a trip to Kenya with her new mysterious friend Ben, played by The Walking Dead's Steven Yeung. Ben has a flashy car and a lot of money for his age, which Jong-su finds to be strange, but even stranger is the fact that they all seem to be in a love triangle. Ben later informs Jong-su of his curious behavior of burning down greenhouses.
Since Burning's debut at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, the movie has been hailed as "haunting" and "beautiful" by critics. Lee Chang-dong has his eyes on South Korea's first Foreign-Language Academy Award nomination. Film fans in North America have been waiting a long time to see Burning, especially since it premiered in May of this year in South Korea, where it made nearly $5 million at the box office. Burning hits select North American theaters on October 26th.
Development on Burning began in 2016 and was supposed to begin filming that same year, but Haruki Murakami ended up in a dispute with Japan's NHK, which set the film back a year. However, casting was still announced in 2016 with Steven Yeung, Yoo Ah-in, and Jeon Jong-seo hopping on board the project. Filming started in September of 2017 and finally wrapped in January of this year. Lee Chan-dong took Murkami's story and adapted it to the big screen, though it has been criticized for not being a direct adaptation of the brief source material.
Burning is the long-awaited return of Lee Chan-dong in the director's chair. While he hasn't helmed a project since 2010's Poetry, he has produced a number of films in the eight years since. The wait has certainly been worth it with the rave reviews and box office success in South Korea, but it might end up taking home an Academy Award as well, which would be huge for Chan-dong and the entire country, since South Korea has never been recognized at the annual event. On a side note, viewers will reportedly have a lot more questions than answers at the conclusion of the film, which has led to some pretty interesting interpretations of the conclusion, so be on the lookout for clues. You can watch the first trailer for Burning below, thanks to the Well Go USA YouTube channel.