Secret Sunshine (2007)

Secret Sunshine (2007)

A grieving woman deals with the worst of fates in this challenging, disquieting riverside drama

7.6

Movie

South Korea
Korean
Drama
2007
CHANG-DONG LEE, LEE CHANG-DONG
Cha Mi-kyeong, Do-yeon Jeon, Go Seo-hee
143 min

TLDR

What an interesting choice to make the setting a few years after that horrifying case.

What it's about

After moving to her late husband’s hometown, tragedy strikes Lee Shin-ae again, making her question her faith in a higher power.

The take

For better or worse, death strikes us all, fast and unexpectedly. It’s tough enough if the death is caused by ill health or accidents, but when premeditated by another person– it can be easy to lose faith in a higher power. Secret Sunshine depicts a grieving mother trying to start a new life in the countryside, though certain events make it tough to fit in. There’s a well-meaning, long-term bachelor who’s interested in her, though she’s not ready to reciprocate, and there’s townsfolk that would like to invite her to their church, though she’s reluctant to join. There’s curious, gossipy neighbors ready to comment on her every action. Secret Sunshine reveals a darker layer to the countryside towns we retreat to to cope, but it also examines the ways we grieve, cope, and deal with forgiveness, in a community that would prioritize itself at the expense of what's morally right.

What stands out

Lee Shin-ae of Secret Sunshine would have felt melodramatic, had the lead been portrayed by another person. However, in the hands of Jeon Do-yeon, the grief that compounds with each moment feels all too real. It’s because of embodying this role so well that Jeon won Best Actress in Cannes, and became inspiration for plenty of Korea’s younger actresses.

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