Secret Sunshine (DVD) (Criterion Collection) (US Version) DVD Region 1
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YesAsia Editorial Description
Having recently lost her husband, piano teacher Shin Ae (Jeon Do Yeon) moves to her husband's hometown of Milyang. Still in a fragile state of grief, she takes solace in her friendship with rough-voiced, but kind-hearted local Jong Chan (Song Kang Ho). In love with Shin Ae, he follows her around and helps her settle into her new home. Life abandons Shin Ae once more though when her son is abducted and murdered. She then takes refuge in religion and, devoting herself to Christianity, slowly begins to heal. To find closure, she visits her child's murderer in prison to tell him she has forgiven him, but what he says in reply throws her into a new crisis.
|Product Title:||Secret Sunshine (DVD) (Criterion Collection) (US Version) 密陽 (DVD) (Criterion Collection) (美國版) 密阳 (DVD) (Criterion Collection) (美国版) シークレット・サンシャイン （密陽） (Criterion Collection) (US版) Secret Sunshine (DVD) (Criterion Collection) (US Version)|
|Artist Name(s):||Jeon Do Yeon (Actor) | Song Kang Ho (Actor) 全 度妍 (Actor) | 宋 康昊 (Actor) 全 度妍 (Actor) | 宋 康昊 (Actor) チョン・ドヨン (Actor) | ソン・ガンホ (Actor) 전 도연 (Actor) | 송 강호 (Actor)|
|Director:||Lee Chang Dong 李滄東 李沧东 イ・チャンドン 이창동|
|Country of Origin:||South Korea|
|Picture Format:||NTSC What is it?|
|Region Code:||1 - USA, Canada, U.S. Territories What is it?|
|Publisher:||The Criterion Collection (US)|
|Package Weight:||117 (g)|
|Shipment Unit:||1 What is it?|
|YesAsia Catalog No.:||1024447421|
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YumCha! Asian Entertainment Reviews and Features
Professional Review of "Secret Sunshine (DVD) (Criterion Collection) (US Version)"
This professional review refers to Secret Sunshine (DVD) (Limited Edition) (Korea Version)
Secret Sunshine is the latest effort from acclaimed Korean director Lee Chang Dong, who previously won praise and prizes both at home and abroad for his films Green Fish, Peppermint Candy, and Oasis. Returning to the director's chair following his work as Korean Minister of Culture and Tourism from 2003 to 2004, he managed to enlist two of the biggest names in Korean cinema in the form of Song Kang Ho (recently in The Show Must Go On and Bong Joon Ho's blockbuster hit The Host) and Jeon Do Yeon (who enjoyed success with You are my Sunshine and the controversial films The Untold Scandal and Happy End), whose performance won her the Best Actress award at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, at which the film itself was nominated for the Golden Palm. Unsurprisingly, the film has since been chosen as the country's entry for the 2008 Academy Awards.
The film begins with widow Shin Ae (Jeon Do Yeon) and her young son Jun moving to the small town of Milyang (which translates as "secret sunshine") where her husband was born. Opening up a piano school with the help of local man Jong Chan (Song Kang Ho), she tries to rebuild her life, a dream which is shattered when the boy is kidnapped and murdered. This fresh tragedy pushes her over the edge, and she falls in with the local Christian church. Her newfound religious beliefs initially give her comfort and strength, though she is soon tested when she decides to try and find it in her heart to forgive the man responsible for Jun's cruel death.
Although Secret Sunshine may appear to cover some potentially familiar ground recently also explored in the likes of Voice of a Murderer and Christian prison drama Maundy Thursday, and may sound like a sure recipe for yet another slice of gloomy melodrama, it actually turns out to be a very different proposition indeed. Of course, this should not come as much of a surprise given the pedigree of Lee's previous works, though it's a tribute to his skill as a storyteller that he here manages to mine such an uninspiring premise into something which is wholly engrossing and intellectually challenging. This film is one where the viewer slowly gets to know and becomes involved with the characters, without ever being patronised or spoon fed cliche, and as a result they come across as being real and indeed painfully human rather than the usual kind of obvious two dimensional stereotypes. As a result, much of the film is ambiguous and open to interpretation, such as Shin Ae's feelings towards the bullied daughter of her child's murderer. This adds an uncommon complexity and depth to the drama which makes it all the more gripping.
Although this is in part due to Lee's intimate, patient style, the film's success rests largely upon the shoulders of actress Jeon Do Yeon, who features in almost every scene. Giving a wonderfully naturalistic performance, she provides the film with its emotional core and pulls the viewer along on her character's difficult journey. Since the drama heads into some pretty bleak territory, this does make for uncomfortable viewing at times, particularly during the latter stages, and the scene in which she finally confronts the killer is one of the most devastating and powerful in recent memory, though not in the manner expected. Thankfully, although the film deals with deep despair and is profoundly moving, it is never overwrought or melodramatic, and when the tears come they are raw and painful to watch. Never offering forced resolutions or easy answers, the film is bravely non-judgmental and Lee does not shy away from the fact that people make bad choices and mistakes.
Song Kang Ho also turns in a good performance, and whilst there is certainly a bit of his usual bumbling idiot shtick to his role, he is by no means a simple guardian angel, having questionable motivations and showing several flashes of frightening rage. His character also undergoes an interesting journey, and has a very different experience with Christianity to that of Shin Ae.
Secret Sunshine is a film about religion rather than a religious one as such, with Lee depicting Christianity from the perspective of an outsider. Firstly treated as an alien annoyance, with people clapping, singing and howling at the sky, the religion is tackled in brave, open fashion, asking difficult questions, beginning with the old chestnut as to why God allows terrible things to happen. Even more searching issues are explored as the film progresses, as Shin Ae's Christian rebirth essentially sees her using the religion as a crutch. This period of the film is particularly challenging, as her conversion whilst perhaps understandable given the circumstances distances her from the viewer and comes as a shock. The matter comes to a head as she struggles with living as well as speaking the religious ideal, in particular in her attempts to forgive the murderer, and Lee uses this to meditate upon the darker and even hypocritical side of Christianity, dealing with the moral superiority which many seem to use to take refuge in and the feelings of jealousy and even enmity which it can result in. Again, he offers no judgement upon the religion, simply showing that faith can mean different things to different people, leaving the viewer to draw their own conclusions as to what lies behind the smiles and within the hearts of the characters, something which again underlines how the film is seen through the eyes of Shin Ae herself.
As a result, Secret Sunshine is arguably one of the most honest films about Christianity, and one which challenges the religion without either offending or pulling punches. On top of such intellectual ponderings, it offers superbly acted, tense, quietly gripping character driven drama which draws the viewer in and refuses to let go. Possibly Lee's best effort to date, a fact which itself speaks volumes for its quality, the film is simply one of the best from Korea in recent years.
by James Mudge - BeyondHollywood.com
Customer Review of "Secret Sunshine (DVD) (Criterion Collection) (US Version)"
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March 20, 2010
This customer review refers to Secret Sunshine (DVD) (Limited Edition) (Korea Version)
Lee Chang Dong's 2nd best film
|I am not going to go into a detailed analytical review of this film, I do not have time. So all I will say is that this film is amazing, by far the second best Lee Chang Dong film. Jeon Do Yeon's performance is phenomenal. Before I saw this film I did not particularly rate her, however, the way she carries this film almost single handedly deserves the up most respect. The acting, story, directing and script are all first class, but with Mr Lee at the helm it is not a surprise.|
See all my reviews
October 30, 2008
This customer review refers to Secret Sunshine (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)
After reading reviews on YouTube and on YesAsia as well, I thought I'd like this movie. I was willing to pay close to $20CAD for it and thought it would be a great buy, but I was wrong.
The synopsis made it sound better than it actually was. I thought the scenes/events weren't as coherent as they could've been. I believe Jeon Do Yeon is somewhat a good actor (only judging by this movie), but this movie was poorly made. In addition to all this, I thought this movie was boring.
In the end, it also leaves you with sort of a "cliff hanger". The ending scene was not good at all. I didn't even know it ended until the credits started to roll.
I thought I wasted my money on this movie. I expected more. I expected better. Maybe my expectations were too high, who knows?
See all my reviews
March 7, 2008
This customer review refers to Secret Sunshine (DVD) (Korea Version)
Great film of faith challenged
In "Secret Sunshine", Shin Ae (Jeon Do Yeon) and her young son moved to her late husband's hometown shortly after he died in a car accident. The move clearly is an attempt to hold on to some part of her dead husband's life. Jong Chan (Song Kang Ho) fixes her car and helps her to find a home. Clearly smitten with her, Jong Chan spends the rest of the movie trying to win her heart. After she moves in, she goes to her neighborhood pharmacy and the pharmacist's wife, who runs the cash register, gives her a Bible, invites her to embrace the love of God, and invites Shin Ae to her church. Shin Ae, an atheist, is uncomfortable at this approach; she accepts the Bible, but exits the shop quickly.
Subsequently Shin Ae's son is kidnapped. After Shin Ae empties out her savings to pay the kidnapper's ransom, the murdered body of her son is found. (The kidnapper is caught, convicted, and imprisoned for kidnapping and murder.) Having now lost everything, the extremely distraught Shin Ae asks the pharmacist's wife how her loving God could let this happen. The woman's faith-filled response leads Shin Ae to embrace Christ. She becomes a regular churchgoer and participates in the church's evangelistic outreach efforts. However, she remains emotionally crushed; her faith seems like spiritual novacaine. Jong Chan also begins attending the church, although he obviously does it to spend more time with Shin Ae.
One year after she joined the church, Shin Ae announces that she wants to visit the prison to tell her son's murderer that she has forgiven him and to share the gospel with him. Her friends marvel at the strength of Shin Ae's faith. Jong Chan drives Shin Ae and a couple of the church ladies to the prison for the visit. Shin Ae tells the murderer about her faith and how it has given her peace. The prisoner explains how glad he is to hear of her conversion because, after he was imprisoned, he too became a Christian and has found forgiveness in Christ. The prisoner radiates the love and peace of Christ as he speaks. Shin Ae looks like she has been punched in the stomach. She mumbles a few words, then leaves.
In the parking lot outside the prison, she wonders how this could have happened. How could God have forgiven this cold-blooded killer before she did? How could this killer be basking in the love of God while she remains sorely wounded by the murder of her son? Why has God cheated her out of this opportunity to become a martyr by offering faith and forgiveness to this criminal? Her "spiritual novacaine" wears off and she rages against God, a God she now views as a sadistic torturer.
She wants revenge against this terrible God and undertakes a self-destructive campaign to get it. Watching her wage war against God is a haunting and unforgettable experience. Ultimately, the film offers a glimmer of hope for Shin Ae through the selfless, Christ-inspired love of Jong Chan, but it is a harrowing ride along the way to that hope.
I approached "Secret Sunshine" with great trepidation; I am an evangelical Christian and have become accustomed to seeing ham-handed caricatures of faith in Hollywood movies. Director Lee Chang Dong, however, is masterful in his even-handed depiction of Christian faith and of the Christian faithful, with the faithful's all-too-human strengths and weaknesses. I hope that many Christians watch this film; it has much to teach us about how to better reflect the love of Christ in this world.
I have no words to express the raw courage of Jeon Do Yeon's performance in this film. There is no better actress on the planet. Song Kang Ho surprises with his beautifully nuanced portrayal of Shin Ae's dogged suitor. "Secret Sunshine" is not just a good film; it is a great film that confronts great questions. I recommend it to everyone.