Near-novelistic in its heft and aspiration, Chang-dong Lee’s “Secret Sunshine” (Milyang) is an epic tragedy set in small-town South Korea and blessed with an emphatic performance by Do-yeon Jeon as a grieving mother. A 2007 production, “Secret Sunshine” is getting a belated release in anticipation of Lee’s highly lauded “Poetry” opening later this year.) His characters suffer deeply, but Lee doesn’t punish them, precisely, rather, he observes with the compassion of a neighbor, a friend, a poet. Jeon won Best Actress at Cannes in 2007 for her portrayal of a woman who turns to Christianity after loss and finds it wanting as well. A wrenching descent into madness or the resistance of a sturdy soul against whatever may come? Jeon is fierce and compelling. Lee’s earlier films include “Peppermint Candy” (2000) and “Oasis,” (2002) which demonstrate a willingness to display wounds and suffering with similar clarity. 142m. HDCam video. (Ray Pride)
“Secret Sunshine” plays Friday, Saturday and Wednesday at Siskel.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published soon. Previews of the project are on Twitter and on Instagram as Ghost Signs Chicago. More photography on Instagram.