SECRET SUNSHINE - Official South Korean Entry For Oscar Best Foreign Language FilmDecember 29, 2010

SECRET SUNSHINE - Official South Korean Entry For Oscar Best Foreign Language Film

On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: SECRET SUNSHINE (Sundance Selects).
Email Cynthia Kane

 
A end of the year winner from South Korea… and the buzz is all about the Oscars… see it On Demand.
 
Lee Chang-dong was a successful novelist and playwright when he turned to filmmaking at the age of 40. SECRET SUNSHINE is his fourth film; it debuted at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and is finally making is appearance in cinemas and Sundance Selects On Demand on cable in the United States.
 
Jeon Do-yeon won the prize for Best Actress there and SECRET SUNSHINE has been submitted as the official Korean submission for Best Foreign Language Film for the Oscars.
 
SECRET SUNSHINE (Sundance Selects)
SECRET SUNSHINE (Sundance Selects)

 

The story begins simply enough. A young widow, Sin-ae moves with her little son to the suburbs of the town, Milyang (which is also the Korean name for the film) where her late husband was born. Her hope is to create a small music conservatory. She tries to adapt to her new life, but locals are cold and suspicious; she feels very alone. 
 
Suddenly she’s faced with new tragedy, her only friend, a kind misfit who works as a mechanic (played by the inimitable Song Kang-ho) stands by her side, trying to love her and give her some hope, some salvation in the senseless of what life has offered her.
 
I don’t want to give too much of the plot away – it will spoil the impact.
 
This is an extraordinary and such a finely crafted film with many subtleties, twists, turns and challenging surprises. Watching it is like spending time with a great novel, how the story infuses and gets under the skin before one is aware of it. The story, the characters stay with you a long time after.
 
Within the conversation of the importance of world cinema is there’s been a lot of discussion in the last years about Americans disliking subtitled films, hating to “read” their films, even that we as a people are too “stupid” for subtitles. Okay, interesting, but I think this is dead wrong. 
 
SECRET SUNSHINE (Sundance Selects)
SECRET SUNSHINE (Sundance Selects)
 
True maybe many of us haven’t been exposed enough. Yet, the entire rest of the entire world watches films with subtitles. We are culturally hurting by not being exposed and being allowed to embrace the best of world cinema. And I firmly believe if you offer the best to people, they will rise to the occasion. 
 
The fact that IFC Films gives same-day OnDemand as theatrical release is an incredible gift and I think few of us realize in fact how great it is.
 
On a final note, there was a long lapse between Chang-dong Lee’s last work OASIS and SECRET SUNSHINE. In between he served as the Minister for Culture and Tourism for the government of South Korea. His latest film, POETRY was in competition at Cannes last year, so we’ve got more Chang-dong Lee to look forward to… I just hope it doesn’t take three years to be released this time in the US.
 

- Cynthia Kane

Cynthia
Cynthia Kane reviews documentaries for On Demand Weekly. She is a writer and Sr Programming Manager for [ ITVS], overseeing the International Initiative for funding in their SF office. Prior she’s had many incarnations from actor to writer to producer. She co-created DOCday on Sundance Channel.

 

SECRET SUNSHINE is available on Sundance Selects On Demand until 2/08/10
142 min / TV MA

 

 

Read Other Reviews By Cynthia Kane:

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