April 25, 2009

Secret Sunshine (2007)

stunning. Korean Christians are not paraded as an oddity to the west but rather presented in something that's at once believable and as surreal as it would be in Smalltown, USA. While there are some issues with tone, ultimately it works towards a lyrical journey of mourning, salvation, rebellion and, once both extremes are exhausted, the eventual descent into emotional atrophy. Jeon Do-yeon is amazing, delivering a strong performance through everything that her role hurls at her. While it's easy to label it as anti-religious, its strength lies in the fact that it shows how people deal with grief, their emotional strengths and weaknesses, and does not hope to deliver a message for one side or the other. Despite our (natural?) tendency to identify with Shin-ae's view because of sympathy, her actions are ultimately driven by her personal emotional state and not by some overarching anti-religious absolute truth. Overall well worth it through to the end. Glad I was able to see a 35mm print, as it is the way it should be experienced.