The Burning Season (2023) review Pat Byrne

the burning season

The Burning Season at GFF, 3 and 4 March, 2024

Sean Garrity’s The Burning Season is a story about two people Alena (Sara Canning) and JB (Jonas Chernick) and their dysfunctional affair. It involves them meeting each year at the lakeside resort JB runs with Poppy (Tanisha Thammavongsa).  However, there is much more than lust binding these lovers together as they share a secret that must not be revealed. They are very good at keep a pact that:  ‘Buried stuff should stay buried’.

The film is presented through a reverse narrative. In Chapter 1 JB is horrified to find that Alena and her husband Tom (Joe Pingue) have turned up as guests at his wedding to Poppy.  We are immediately propelled into discomfort as JB makes an embarrassing cocaine-fuelled speech right before the wedding vows.

Going back in time, the story unfolds as we follow JB and Alena’s risky deception and their relationship, which shifts between a chaste friendship between running buddies to one of frenzied lustful lovers.  As we watch the shifting pattern of their affair, we are all the time pondering on where our sympathies lie and wondering about the mystery underpinning their connection.

The movie takes us right back to when the pair first meet as teenagers and this section of the film successfully explores more awkward youthful emotions and rebelliousness culminating in disaster.

The casting is excellent and the reverse narrative construct works well – tension drives the movie with countdown chapters building towards the dramatic finale when the shared secret is finally revealed.

The writer, director and cast do very well working with a complex situation developing overtime. They somehow manage to avoid confusing the viewer and allow us space to think about the characters and just how much we have the right to judge them.

Pat Byrne, February, 2024.


Sean Garrity


Jonas Chernick

Diana Frances


Andrew Bronfman, Jonas Chernick


Sara Canning, Jonas Chernick, Joe Pingue, Tanisha Thammavongsa

the burning season poster

The Burning Season at Glasgow Film Festival 2024

Sunday 3 March 5.45 p.m.

Monday 4 March 2.15 p.m.

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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