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“Burning”: a big city fairy tale with surprises

A Night in the Country: Jongsoo (Yo Ah In), Hime Jeon Jong Seo) and Ben (Steve Yoon).

A Night in the Country: Jongsoo (Yo Ah In), Hime Jeon Jong Seo) and Ben (Steve Yoon).

Photo: dpa

Three young men try to find their place in modern South Korea. Cinema from Asia with a star from the series “Walking Dead”.

Berlin. Sometimes, there’s that special moment in the movie that will be remembered for years.

South Korean drama “Burning” – which will be watched on Arte on Mondays from 10:05 pm – has a moment right in the middle of the road: main character Haemi is standing in the sunlight in front of her friend Jongsu’s house, very close to the border with North Korea who was Already blatant ads from advertising speakers.

Hemi raises her arms and begins to dance naked to the light, only her dark silhouette moves. The rush and the longing are in their movements, all the energy in their early twenties that has to find its way and yet they already suspect that social restrictions might destroy one’s dreams.

One woman and two men

But not only the somewhat clumsy Jongsu watches this dance, but also Ben, his opponent in the fight for Haemi: richer, better looking and more self-confident. This dance is a quiet climax in an unusual movie about our desire to please, and how we deal with desire and anger.

At the beginning of Lee Chang-Dong’s movie, which has won awards at many festivals, Jongsu wanders the streets of Seoul as a delivery boy, finally passing a girl in front of a row of shops selling lottery tickets to passersby. She introduces herself as his elementary school girlfriend Haemi and the two share an upsetting date, but they end up asking him to feed her cat as she travels through Africa.

A “Gatsby” from South Korea

The unsuccessful young author agrees and spends time in Haemi’s apartment in her absence. When he finally picks her up at the airport weeks later, another man suddenly appears: Ben, who was brilliantly created by “Walking Dead” star Stephen Yeon between witch and villain. A wealthy heir with a Western touch, with a luxury apartment and a large Porsche, “Gatsby” from South Korea, Jongsoo comments dryly.

The subsequent love triangle is suitably embarrassed and lost when Haemi suddenly disappears after visiting Jongsu’s dilapidated house in the middle of nowhere.

Even shortly before its traditional ending, the slowly told story resists many established viewing habits. One of the movie’s great strengths is that it leaves a lot of things a mystery: Is Hemi really an old friend? Is your cat already there?

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220224-99-264666 / 4

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