The Reel Review
A man desperate to get cash to pay off a debt tries to rob a gas station, only to have an employee, tired of being overshadowed by her more popular co-worker, ask if she can come with him. When he says no, a bizarre chain of events leads to her taking revenge, in this 2019 dark comedy/crime-thriller starring Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Suki Waterhouse and Josh Hutcherson.
Technically speaking, in his feature film debut, writer/director Mike Gan puts together a pretty solid-looking, low budget film. While the single setting gas station crime thriller is nothing new (the same trope was done less convincingly a year later in Open 24 Hours), his story is quirky and Cobham-Hervey (I Am Woman, Hotel Mumbai) gives an incredibly believable performance as the sweet but unwell Melinda, a young woman so desperate to make human connections that she inadvertently scares away customers. The chair scene is particularly shocking.
After a pretty taut and entertaining first half, Burn starts to lean into Melinda’s obsession with burning herself as well as other things (and people) around her, a seemingly aimless direction as the story never quite finds its footing (or point). But at less than an hour and a half, at least it knows not wear out its welcome.
• The Frank Lloyd Wright gas station that Melinda mentions in the film is the R. W. Lindholm Service Station in Cloquet, Minnesota, built in 1958 and still in use.
• A native of Adelaide, Australia, Tilda Cobham-Hervey was a circus performer in her earlier years before becoming an actress. Her breakout performance took place as the star of the 2020 Helen Reddy biopic I Am Woman.
• Burn was filmed in Poughkeepsie, New York.