Burning

Burning

I read (or rather, listened to) Barn Burning a couple of weeks before Cannes, which may have been a mistake. Typically, when a critic notes that an adaptation of a pre-existing work is "loose", one might reach the conclusion that substantial aspects of the narrative have been altered: perhaps characters have been combined, events changed and other sequences invented wholesale. The latter point is certainly true of Burning, but really the big change between Murakami's story and Lee's fascinating adaptation is on a deeper level, for this film casually throws the very core of the narrative itself off-axis in a most intriguing fashion. Murakami's tale was an elliptical, elusive and illusive account of a mysterious conversation that changes a man's life forever - so is Lee's, yet it is also an insight into class consciousness and the need for a Zeitgeist among the youth of today that gradually morphs into a Society-lite fable of the depravity of the powerful. It is not a film that immediately struck me as a masterwork - though it certainly provoked responses of incendiary passion amongst other critics, being the most acclaimed film in competition at Cannes since Toni Erdmann at least - but its quiet horror is one that has gradually unravelled itself in my mind, twisting and turning in a Salome-like frenzy that I will be poring over for quite some time.

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