Awkward Jongsu bumps into former classmate Haemi (Jong-seo Jun), who looks extremely cute peeling and eating a nonexistent orange. I thought about the orange for the rest of the movie – not really there, but appearing to be – as the story ambiguously unfolds, Jongsu constantly frustrated and starting to pin all his problems on the guy Haemi brings back from abroad before disappearing, Ben (Steven Yeun, union leader of Sorry To Bother You). Uncertainties pile up until Jongsu takes decisive action at the end.
It’s the promo still, but I really like it:
Blake Williams in Filmmaker:
The margins of the central enigma are steeped in uncertainty, every character untrustworthy — enhanced by an intensely unsettling mise en scène that feels simultaneously sacred and profane at every instant. Characters subtly morph — psychologically, physically — over the course of its running time, to the point where I was questioning my own perceptual stability; a remarkable effect that, in retrospect, is absolutely part of the film’s design. As I mentioned earlier, Burning could, in addition to being exemplary cinema, easily coast on being a handsome piece of genre-singed social commentary — the outward villain, Ben, is referred to as a “Gatsby” at one point, expressing a widespread ire toward those effortlessly, unconscionably wealthy Korean men who somehow dominate the country.
Indie-drama story of loss, as widow decides to live in hometown of her deceased husband. But then after rumors spread of her buying valuable property, her son is kidnapped for real estate money she doesn’t have, then he’s killed and we get a more traumatic story of loss and the indie-drama template goes off the rails. I wasn’t crazy about it but I appreciate its unique message – religion is crap and major trauma can’t be overcome in the span of a movie.
Do-yeon Jeon of the recent Housemaid remake won best actress at Cannes, and the great Kang-ho Song (the year after starring in The Host) plays a subdued local guy who’s interested in her, becomes a Christian when she starts attending church meetings and stays with the church even after it’s clear that she won’t be dating him and she turns against the church. It’s a good portrayal of despair, if that’s what you’re after.
He has said that before he starts a movie, he always asks himself, “What is cinema for?” Secret Sunshine is a work of visceral emotions and abstract notions; a study of faith in all its power, strangeness, and cruelty; a look at the particularities of human nature and experience that account for the existence, perhaps even the inevitability, of religion — all of which is to say that it’s an attempt to depict the invisible in what is foremost a visual medium … Put simply, Secret Sunshine shows how religion uses us and how we use religion. A film about the lies we tell ourselves in order to live, it suggests that there may be no bigger lie than religion — but also acknowledges that sometimes lies are necessary.