Secret Sunshine. 2007. South Korea. Written and directed by Lee Chang-dong. Based on Lee Chung-joon’s short story “Story of Worm.” With Jeon Do-yeon, Song Kang-ho. 35mm. In Korean; English subtitles. 142 min.
Hoping to rebuild her life, Shin-ae (Jeon Do-yeon) relocates to her dead husband’s hometown of Milyang with her young son. There she encounters such local characters as a mechanic (Song Kang-ho) who is immediately smitten by her sophisticated “Seoul” persona, a storeowner who finds her unbearably arrogant, and a pharmacist who believes only God can console the grieving soul. Hoping only to be left alone, Shin-ae is instead beset by a cascade of tragedies that test her ability to persevere. This heart-wrenching picture confronts questions of faith, forgiveness, and redemption head-on. Jeon’s tour-de-force performance earned her the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival.