A little while ago, I ran into a South Korean movie called Milyang – which translates into “Secret Sunshine”. As Usually I’m a bit weary of Asian movies (they tend to go on forever), but this time I would not get stopped and was determined to check it out. And I’ve got to say that, even if it did run for 142 minutes, I did enjoy it a lot. Maybe I’m maturing? Nah, it’s probably just that this movie is really good.
The Eternal Downwards Spiral
Other than a basic theme (“coping with tragedy”), it’s near impossible to say what this movie is about, exactly. The premise is quite simple: Sin-ae, a thirtysomething mother, moves with her son Jun to Miryang, the town where her dead husband was born. After that things get a bit hairy – things happen and happen and happen, much reminiscent of that other thing people try to show us in the cinema so often: life.
That’s just about it, really. You can’t really say that this movie tells a certain story, because it doesn’t. Picture Magnolia – a handful of characters which are linked share the theme of “redemption” in their storylines which other than that have nothing to do with each other – but remove the “handful of characters” bit: all these stories just happen to this one woman (performed by the more than great Do-yeon Jeon, who does an awesome job at convincing us that it’s all real), all after another.
I like that: it’s a kind of unusual way of storytelling and we were really wondering how it would (or could) go on at certain points throughout the film. The end of the movie fitted the feeling that we were granted a small look into someone’s life – a look without a firm beginning or end. You get a picture and you can check it out, but you can’t see it all. You can only see what’s in the frame, not what’s on the edge, or the moments leading to the taking of the picture. All you can do is invent those occurances as you see fit.
One little disclaimer though before I send you off to the movies to watch this: it goes to the bone. It never goes beyond that, but it does get pretty dramatic. Oddly enough though, me nor the person with whom I watched this movie, felt really bad afterwards. We just both fell silent, and had to think about it for a while. Interesting.
Now, off you go!