It isn't simple to sketch in brief the breadth and depth of Lee Chang-Dong's film that is unpredictable right up to the end. The young widow Lee Shin-Ae moves to Miryang (= Secret Sunshine), the birthplace of her dead husband, in the hope of building up a new life with her son. She hopes she can get down to work as a piano teacher. There, Shin-Ae meets a shy garage owner who cautiously yet tenaciously reveals his interest while she is also the subject of attempts to convert her by local Christians, who link her loss to her (lack of) faith. Shin-Ae will however face more trials and tribulations. Her son is kidnapped and murdered, after which she collapses. She falls prey to her emotions, of hatred and forgiveness at the same time, of faith and hysteria, of disgust and determination. This is where it becomes clear why everyone was so happy that the phenomenal Jeon Do-Yeon was chosen as Best Actress at Cannes.
Slightly similar to the way Bresson looked at the donkey Balthazar, that's how the director - an IFFR jury member some years ago - regarded his tragic heroine. Without any sensationalism and unsentimentally, but also with great insight. Lee: 'This is a film about life, and in life many things happen, but we can never be sure of what’s going to happen next. This mysterious and secretive aspect of what life is about - from the beginning, that’s what I wanted to show.' (GT)

Original title
Miryang
Filmmaker
Lee Chang-Dong
Country
South Korea
Year
2007
Medium
35mm
Length
142’
Language
Korean
Producer
Hanna Lee
Production Company
Pine House Film
Sales
CJ Entertainment
Writer
Lee Chang-Dong, based on the novel by Yi Chong-Jun
Cinematography
Cho Yong-Kyu
Editor
Kim Hyun
Production Design
Sihn Jeom-Hui
Sound Design
Steve R. Seo
Music
Christian Basso
Cast
Jeon Do-Yeon, Song Kang-Ho
Website
http://ifcfilms.com/films/secret-sunshine