A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Burning is a long, slow character study in Korean with English subtitles that has strong sexual content and a bloody act of violence. There's a scene that simulates sex and shows a woman's bare breasts and a few scenes that show simulated masturbation. No other sensitive parts or explicit acts are shown on-screen. The only direct violence is a stabbing with smears of blood, and burning the body in a car. The main characters frequently smoke cigarettes and smoke marijuana once. Wine and beer frequently appear with meals and socializing, and several scenes take place in bars. There's one instance of "f--k." The three main characters live lonely, isolated lives, so it can be a good opportunity to talk about how things might be different without close ties to friends and family.
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What's the story?
In BURNING, Jong-su (Ah-in Yoo) reconnects with childhood friend Hae-mi (Jong-seo Jun) just before she takes off on vacation to Africa. Jong-su finds himself pining after Hae-mi while she's gone, and is excited to pick her up at the airport when at last she gets back to Seoul. But Jong-su's dreams of romance will have to wait when Hae-mi shows up with the mysterious Ben (Steven Yeun) in tow. When Hae-mi suddenly disappears, Jong-su is convinced Ben has something to do with it and sets out to find her.
Is it any good?
At right around two and a half hours, this quiet, slow-paced character study offers a lot of food for thought while keeping the audience at arm's length. The slow pace, isolated lives, and enigmatic characters make it hard to establish an emotional connection with Burning. It does provoke some thought about why we live the way we do, how that affects us, and what the consequences are of living cut off, if only emotionally, from other people.
The absorbing story, thoughtful direction, and talented acting manage to hold the viewer's interest; we're drawn in despite not being able to feel a real connection to the characters. The ending isn't really an ending, and contributes to a sense of unease, but also encourages thought about where the story might go from there. Strong sexual content, adult themes, and rare but strong violence make it best for oldest teens and up.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the sex in Burning. How much is OK to show in movies? Why?
What about all the cigarette smoking? Is it realistic? What about the scene where they smoke marijuana? What are the possible consequences of smoking either one?
What kind of effect did the violent scene have on you? How much violence is OK to show in movies?
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