With Burning, in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, the South Korean director Lee Chang-dong delivers a slow and sinuous film full of enigmas, halfway between thriller and story of learning, around a story of disappearance, d love and artistic creation.

Adapting a short story from Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, Burned Barns, Lee Chang-dong, 64, tells the story of Jongsu (Yoo Ah-in), a modest young man who shares his life between his job as a courier and his father’s farm, and dream of being a writer.

He stumbles upon Haemi (Yun Jong-seo), a young girl with whom he grew up. They meet again before she goes on a trip to Africa. On her return, she introduces Ben (Steven Yeun, from the American series The Walking Dead ), a rich and enigmatic man she met there and with whom she starts a relationship.

Ben reveals to Jongsu that he has a hobby, burning greenhouses. A confidence that will be the starting point of disturbing events, on which Jongsu investigates.

In 2:30, the film, which also plays on the border between reality and imagination, gradually unfolds its plot, in an atmosphere shrouded in mystery, while Jongsu and the spectator try to unravel the secret of Ben.


“I thought that the mystery developed in this Murakami news could unfold in several layers in a film,” said Lee Chang-dong during a press conference in Cannes.

“At first, I hesitated a bit to adapt it. But I saw that this mystery could give something very cinematographic, “said the filmmaker, whose film Burning is the sixth, and the third in the running for the Palme d’Or.

He won the script award at Cannes in 2010 for his previous feature, Poetry .

With Burning , the director, also writer and Minister of Culture of his country in 2003-2004, also explained to have wanted to show “the rage of today’s youth”, disoriented by unemployment.

“Young people are angry, but do not know where to lead this anger,” added the director, for whom, “at present, all over the world, people of all nationalities, all religions and all social classes are angry for different reasons. ”

“The anger of young people is one of the most urgent problems,” he says. For them, the world today “looks like a giant puzzle,” he adds. “Their situation is exactly reminiscent of the character of Murakami’s novel, who feels completely apathetic about this man whose true identity is shrouded in mystery.”