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Secret Sunshine (The Criterion Collection)

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Product Details

  • Format: Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Korean
  • Subtitles: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: April 1 2014
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • ASIN: B005152C9Q
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #65,575 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x97e99d44) out of 5 stars 27 reviews
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x983ab108) out of 5 stars A Complex And Challenging Cannes Champion Comes to Criterion June 15 2011
By K. Harris - Published on
Format: Blu-ray
Criterion has scored another winner with the acquisition of the intense Korean drama "Secret Sunshine." Director Lee Chang-dong has assembled a multi-layered film propelled by a stunning lead performance by Cannes Best Actress Jeon Do-yeon. In an age where few films explore religion from a contemporary standpoint, this is a critical and thoughtful examination of faith, tragedy, grief, forgiveness and perseverance. What starts as a rather pleasant and joyful film morphs into a thriller before it changes tone once again to searing human drama. The director shows a deft hand transforming lightness into the heart of darkness and delivering the viewer to the other side. Complex, challenging, and emotionally devastating--I hope the Criterion release will raise awareness of this remarkably adult entertainment.

A young widow (Do-yeon) and her son relocate to her late husband's hometown Miryang (Secret Sunshine). Starting fresh, she starts to tutor piano and is assisted by a potential new suitor. The details of her new world are expertly showcased and there is a realistic flavor to the scenes of every day life in this small town. But just as she has settled into a daily routine, tragedy strikes. After an intense sequence of events, she is left devastated and bereft. I know many people will reveal more of the plot than I will, but I think it's best to let the narrative unravel without expectation. Seeking solace, she throws herself into spirituality and uses the church to fill the emptiness of her life. The need to forgive and the need to hate do battle within her soul and the last hour of the picture is a war of emotion. Is there a way to reconcile these divergent feelings and is the church a help or a hindrance? This is a serious examination of important issues and a heartfelt and in-depth exploration of character. It doesn't shy away from a woman descending to the very edges of madness as it commingles with morality.

In less subtle hands, "Secret Sunshine" might have turned into a weepy melodrama. With emotions this raw, it would be easy to overplay many aspects of the film--from grief to fervor. But Do-yeon is a revelation, a natural and grounded presence that connects the film to a realness that is remarkable and refreshing. Seriously, this is work that will blow you away! The film doesn't offer tidy answers and is as messy as life itself. So many horrific things may happen to us, and in some way--we all do what we must to persevere. The character in "Secret Sunshine" deals with more than her share of adversity. Each step she has made a conscious decision to move forward. Eventually we all reach our breaking point--whether or not we break is the question. This is a simple and powerful character study that may get under your skin. It did mine! KGHarris, 6/11.

DVD/Blu-Ray Features:
New digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Lee Chang-dong and cinematographer Cho Yong-kyu (with DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray edition)
New interview with Lee
On the Set of "Secret Sunshine," a video piece featuring interviews with actors Jeon Do-yeon and Song Kang-ho, as well as behind-the-scenes footage
U.S. theatrical trailer
New and improved English subtitle translation
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Dennis Lim
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9801ee64) out of 5 stars lies, lies, lies Dec 24 2007
By Anthony Adler - Published on
This is truly extraordinary and wonderful film, profound and profoundly depressing, and a perfect antidote to the delusions and falsehood of Hollywood. It exemplifies what makes contemporary Korean cinema so compelling: a willingness to explore human suffering without the promise of redemption --- political, spiritual, or aesthetic. The last shot of the film says it all. And the lead actresses performance was amazing: she seemed so fully consumed by her role that she became a new person as her character changed.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97e95b7c) out of 5 stars Simply fantastic Jan. 2 2008
By Jason Van Cleave - Published on
I recently saw this movie while working in Jinju, S.Korea, about 30 minutes from where this takes place. This movie is an accurate portrait of life in a mid-sized Korean city. It is ambiguous in the best sense of the word: critical of religion while not condemning. A portrait of exactly how one copes with the most horrible tragedy. The lead actress won a Cannes award for her performance and she deserves it. She is in turns funny, sad and pious, all shown in a perfectly measured, never exaggerated performance. This movie is unique and recommended without the slightest reservation.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x980fb138) out of 5 stars The best film I've seen that deals with Religion May 23 2013
By Colby - Published on
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I enjoy psychological films. I like seeing characters undergo psychological changes. Those types of films entertain me, even change my views of the world sometimes.

Secret Sunshine is one such film. In it a woman experiences a set of major events that send her spiraling into a psychological downfall, then up through enlightenment, then, finally, she falls deeper and deeper until true enlightenment is possible.

I don't want to spoil anything for those of you who haven't seen this yet, so I'll keep it brief. The woman loses her husband and then moves to his hometown with her son, hoping to start over. Once there she is greeted by a local neighbor who tells her that the only way to be truly happy is to find God, join the church, and become a religious citizen. She is hesitant, explaining that she doesn't believe in such things.

A few more things happen (I'm refraining from saying for spoilers sake) and she decides to join the church, finding God and weeping in an emotional scene (the actress does a wonderful job here, as well as throughout the entire film) which leads to her apparent happiness.

But not everything is as it seems...and when the woman decides to apply one of God's teachings to her daily life, the results aren't what she had expected. She falls into darkness once again, this time at a frightening speed.

What happens after this can only be witnessed by watching the film, since I don't want to give away any more.

Secret Sunshine is a masterpiece of psychological cinema. It takes a step back and examines how Religion can affect a human life, both positively and negatively, and the film isn't afraid of pulling punches. This is an emotionally draining film, but I found the ending to be truly enlightening. Others might feel differently towards the ending.

Viewers with strong religious beliefs that can't view this film with an open mind might be disturbed by Secret Sunshine.

Viewers with open minds, regardless of life beliefs, and fans of "different" cinema will enjoy this film.

I couldn't take my eyes off every frame of Secret Sunshine, and the way the film ends gives me hope. Film: 5/5 stars.

The blu-ray is a Criterion release, so the video and audio are perfect. There are plenty of extras including a booklet inside the blu-ray case with an interesting article. Video/Audio/Extras gets 5/5 stars.

Overall: 5/5 stars. Secret Sunshine is the best film I've seen that deals with Religion. Its also a great "character study" of a woman undergoing psychological changes. I recommend this film highly to viewers with open minds.

Rating: Not Rated, likely Rated R. Minimal strong language, some sexual content (which serves the story well) and some disturbing violence. Ages 17 and up.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97e95d98) out of 5 stars The performance of a lifetime... Sept. 9 2011
By Andrew Ellington - Published on
Format: DVD
Many things have been said about Jeon Do-Yeon's performance in `Secret Sunshine'. In fact, many have hailed it as one of the finest turns in the past decade. Sadly, many still haven't seen it, but now that it has an official US release and is finally on DVD maybe many more will get their chance.

Please take that chance.

I may be rash in saying this, but it needs saying; what Jeon Do-Yeon does in this film is beyond remarkable. In fact, it may be the best performance by any actor or actress to splash across the big screen in the past ten years or so. Seriously, maybe twenty. I don't say this with ignorance either, considering that I watch a lot of films and have seen nearly every `raved' performance to come out of the last few decades. There is a complexity, a subtle layering that is so often overlooked when actors and or actresses attempt a character like Shin-ae. Here you have a tired and worn woman. She is soulless, but not in the typical sense of the word. Her husband, her lying, cheating husband is dead and now, after she has made steps to move on and sever her old life from her very skin, she has a major setback when her young son is ripped from her life. Shin-ae lacks a soul because everything that made her alive inside is gone. Whenever this type of character presents itself, it is usually portrayed with layer upon layer of theatrical grief. That isn't the case here. A lot of times when this character is created there is a one-note vibe that seeps from its pores. That isn't the case here either. Instead, Shin-ae becomes a living breathing dead woman. She has her outbursts, but they all feel connected to a place of earnestness. When she screams and wales and beats her chest while attending church; you feel it as if it were happening in your own living room. But there is more. When she tries to sell herself for mindless pleasure, you cry for her because you understand the depth of her pain. When she cracks in the face of her own tragedy, you heart falls into your stomach.

Yes, Jeon Do-Yeon does so much with her face.

That phone call.

That prison meeting.

The only negative I can muster is that, outside Jeon's performance MAKES this film. I honestly don't think it can hold up without her impressive shoulders there to steady it. It's not that the film is bad at all, and it covers such intensely controversial ground, but walking away from this film I think of nothing more than Jeon's marvelous performance. I have nothing else to say. The movie is very good, but Jeon is so good that she overshadows the rest of everything.

Seriously, you'll think of nothing else.