A master of intensely emotional human dramas, director Lee Chang-dong is a leading light of contemporary Korean cinema, and his place on the international stage was cemented by this stirring and unpredictable work examining grief and deliverance. An effortless mix of light and uncompromising darkness, Secret Sunshine (Milyang) stars Cannes best actress winner Jeon Do-yeon as a widowed piano teacher who moves with her young son from Seoul to her late husband’s provincial hometown for a fresh start. Quietly expressive, supple filmmaking and sublime, subtle performances distinguish this remarkable portrayal of the search for grace amid tragedy. –The Criterion Collection
Lee was born in Daegu, the hub of Korea’s main conservative party. He graduated in 1981 with a degree in Korean Literature from Kyungpook National University in Daegu, where he spent much of his time in the theater, writing and directing plays. After a spell teaching Korean Language in high school, he established himself as a renowned novelist with his first novel Chonri in 1983. Later in his career, to the surprise of many, he turned to movie making.
Lee did not study filmmaking before starting out. He penned two screenplays, Park Kwang-su’s To the Starry Island in 1993 and A Single Spark in 1995. After being encouraged by his contemporaries to finally step behind the directors chair, Lee made Green Fish, a “critique of Korean society told through the eyes of a young man who becomes enmeshed in the criminal underworld”, in 1997.
In 2000, Lee made Peppermint Candy, a story following a single man in reverse chonology through 20 years… read more
structurally curious, in that the conventional story-arc comes to completion about halfway through, giving everything a fun, diagonal quality. the weird second-half is a mixture of absurd allegory, black humor and misanthropy. some of it works, some comes on a bit too strong. the powerhouse acting and humble conclusion make up for the blemishes.
This might be one of the most gripping and heartbreaking stories ever told in a cinematic form. Lee Chang-dong brings us a masterful, depressing work of art, which is brought to life by Do-yeon Jeon's captivating performance as a widowed mother who is thrown into the darkness.
Films by Fassbinder and Eisenstein are also out this week on DVD and Blu-ray.
"The crippling and cruel, not to mention pretty foolish, response to Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette (2006) was perhaps inevitably going to
Dans cette terrible plongée aux enfers, Lee Dong-Chee nous rappelle qu’il n’y aucune rédemption à attendre, ni de dieu, ni des autres. Avec subtilité et violence (violence des sentiments, exacerbés… read review