Monday, 24 March 2008

Secret Sunshine (2007)

Korean title: 밀양 (Milyang)

What’s popping:

Lead actress Jeon Do-yeon, picked up awards like plucking berries from the bushes for her role here.

In this emotionally-charged flick, she portrays a widow named Shin-ae who suffers from a mental breakdown after her son is abducted…and murdered.

That’s one tragedy too many since the poor lady recently lost her husband, who apparently cheated on her when he was alive. I’m not too clear on the details since my copy of the flick had really terrible subtitles.

All I had to bank on while watching the award-winning movie were bad subtitles and my beginner level understanding of the Korean language.

Yet, I was hooked on the show until the end. Our dear (may I say wretched?) protagonist seem to find some respite from the onslaught of bad karma in the church community. But an untimely meeting with her son’s murderer robs her of the refuge.

Good times: 'Catch me if you can, Ma!'

Shin-ae goes ballistic, sets out on self-destructive path and is sucked into a downward spiral of life that is hopelessness. How much can a woman take before losing all her marbles?

Kindness, if you like, comes in the form of mechanic Jong-chan (Song Kang-ho), a friend who sticks by Shin-ae through thick and thin.

When the flick focused on the Korean evangelical Christian community, I cringed and waited for the moment when the people and their belief are turned into a big joke, like in so many other films. Surprisingly, that moment didn’t come. The portrayal of the Christian community is accomplished without condescension.

The open-ended film – yes, one that ends on a dangling note – delves deep into human despair and threads on the delicate ground of (un)forgiveness.

So I guess the question now is, is Jeon’s performance worthy of all the trophies she scooped up? I would say yes. Moving, heart-wrenching, sympathy – those are some the emotions evoked by Jeon's performance.

The Plot:

Have you heard?: 'This role is gonna make me a bigger star than you.'

After hubby dies, Shin-ae (Jeon) and her young son relocate to her late husband’s hometown of Milyang to start life anew.

However, tragedy strikes again when her son is abducted and murdered. A local man Jong-chan (Song Kang-ho) stands by her through it all.

Watch it:

My copy from Beijing has really bad English subtitles. It’s so bad, I couldn’t even understand some parts of it and had to listen to the Korean audio for clarification!

Please get a better DVD. :-P

Related:

Secret Sunshine wins big at the 2nd Asian Film Awards
Song Kang-ho bags Best Actor award
Jeon Do-yeon bags 7 awards in 2007
Milyang shines at 6th South Korea Film Awards
Korean film to be submitted for Oscars
Jeon Do-yeon’s an influential woman

6 Comments:

Rooster said...

Ha ha ha! Poor Liz.

You know why it's so bad? If you notice, it's translated directly from the mandarin subtitles.

For example:

English: I'll give you a call.
Mandarin: wo da dian hua gei ni.
Literal translation: I beat telephone give you (or I've seen "I beat you").

So, if you care to watch it again, read the subtitles and think how you would say it in Chinese. Tee hee!

janeberryblue said...

i've got to disagree with you completely on the Christian community aspect. i LOVED this film for its portrayal of utmost human disparity but christianity was shed in the most negative of lights. i was quite shocked because i always thought of korea as a very religious nation (buddhist OR christian) and wow oh wow, i had never seen the level of mockery that was in this film. i don't want to give away any spoilers (because this is well worth watching!) but they definitely show that the christians aren't as holy as you'd think.

i'm so glad jeon do yeon won so awards for this. she really deserved it!

Joe said...

To be honest, the Christianity in Korea is actually quite spoiled and snobbish(and ironically enough, the most spoiled and snobbish people in the religion are the pastors). So that it's not uncusual it being criticised. There ARE many Christians in Korea compare to other east Asian countries but not all of them are religious. I'm really OK with the Christianity but not the Korean one.

fraulein said...

I saw this over the wkend & i must say it was quite good. Maybe not Hollywood standard for some ppl but good enough for me. I thought JDY displayed a superb emotional range. Song kang-ho - as usual, great! I like his ajushhi role and Milyang dialect accent ; )

JDY deserves her Cannes win.

Very powerful story telling too.

janeberryblue said...

joe, you took the words right out of my mouth ahaha

janeberryblue said...

joe, you took the words right out of my mouth ahaha

 

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