A tragic story from Korea provides arthouse gold

Secret Sunshine

on December 26, 2010 by Ed Scheid
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After her husband's death, Shin-ae (Jeon Do-yeon) relocates to his hometown with her young son (Sean Jeong-yeob), to start a piano school. On her first day in town she's befriended by a mechanic, Jong-chan (Song Kang-ho), who follows her around, often exasperating her. As she continues to feel uncomfortable in her new surroundings an unexpected tragedy shatters Shin-ae's new life.

Jeon received the Best Actress at Cannes for her wrenching performance. She's the first Korean to receive an acting award at this Festival. Jeon gives an emotional depth to Shin-ae's psychological trauma. Dazed and drained, she faces unbearable pain. Shin-ae joins her religious neighbors in Christian services and prayer meetings and finds an ethereal peace surprisingly quickly. Jong-chan joins her in becoming a church member.

Director Lee Chang-dong brings a deep sensitivity to Shin-ae's attempts to rebuild her life, though some scenes, particularly the religious meetings, play on too long and lack surprise.

Distributor: IFC Films
Cast: Jeon Do-yeon, Song Kang-ho and Seon Jeong-yeop
Director/Screenwriter: Lee Chang-dong
Producer: Hanna Lee
Genre: Drama; Korean-language, subtitled
Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 141 min
Release date: December 22 NY

 

Tags: Jeon Do-yeon, Song Kang-ho, Seon Jeong-yeop, Lee Chang-dong, Hanna Lee
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