Secret Sunshine

Director: Lee Chang-Dong
Year Released: 2007
Rating: 3.0

Or, Breaking the Sunbeams. I'm not normally a big fan of the abused and/or hysterical woman drama in which a woman suffers continuously throughout a picture and is unable to help herself, but this is simply too polished and nuanced to dismiss outright. Like the Queeg character in The Caine Mutiny (odd mention, I know, but I just watched that movie again this week), the lead character in this (played masterfully by Jeon Do-yeon) starts off the movie definitely on edge - her husband cheated on her and died tragically, her father was abusive - and the events that transpire (a kidnapping, a failed religious conversion) only send her further down the spiral of insanity, with no one able to help her and she unable to help herself. The handling of religion is also shrewd, as Jeon's manic piano teacher forgets that Christianity welcomes all sinners willing to 'give up' their life to Christ (and not at all 'exclusive'). Certainly doesn't leave much hope at the conclusion - unlike von Trier, Lee's less confident in redemption for her - but that doesn't make this any less insightful.