CFF 2024: Our Review of ‘The Burning Season’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Film Festivals, Movies by - March 21, 2024
CFF 2024: Our Review of ‘The Burning Season’

If you’ve ever wanted to know what would happen if a charming Carley Fortune novel about young love were crossed with a twisted psychosexual drama, The Burning Season is the film for you!

Told backwards, JB and Elena’s love story is a dark and upsetting tragedy. The pair have been lovers off-and-on since Elena (Sara Canning) visited the resort JB (Jonas Chernick) and his family run with her family as a youth. The resort is also where Elena’s father met his tragic demise, something about which Elena never speaks. Case in point: Even her nice lawyer husband doesn’t know how his wife’s father met his end. Only Elena and JB know the truth…

Unfortunately for everyone involved, JB and Elena’s secret affair is finally uncovered at Tom’s wedding, right in front of his new wife and Elena’s long-time husband. But is there a possibility for redemption if the leads tell the dark secret that has united them for over two decades? Perhaps for their partners, but as an audience member, I remained unsympathetic.

The Burning Season has no shortage of shocking plot twists. But its lack of character development makes you more likely to feel frustrated with JB and Elena than to feel for them. I’m all for complicated love stories about tortured antiheroes, but I want to know something more meaningful about my leads than that they like sex and Kraft Dinner. While we do learn JB is in recovery for substance use disorder, but we see so little of JB and Elena’s lives when they aren’t illicitly banging each other at JB’s resort it’s hard to know how his recovery is going.

Ultimately, this is a movie that takes you to unexpected places. However, its two-dimensional character development makes its revelations hit softer than they should. This is a film that attempts an ambitious portrait of guilt and the self-destructive messiness of life, yet it mostly falls flat.


This post was written by
Sarah Sahagian is a feminist writer based in Toronto. Her byline has appeared in such publications as The Washington Post, Refinery29, Elle Canada, Flare, The Toronto Star, and The National Post. She is also the co-founder of The ProfessionElle Society. Sarah holds a master’s degree in Gender Studies from The London School of Economics. You can find her on Twitter, where she posts about parenting, politics, and The Bachelor.
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