Congratulations to Jeon Do-yeon on winning best actress at Cannes. She was an early front-runner in the competition, and just for once those early hopes of success were justified.
For the first third of its nearly two-and-a-half-hour running time, “Secret Sunshine” feels like a slightly somber fish-out-of-water comedy (reports AO Scott at the New York Times), until a sudden catastrophe cranks up the psychological intensity, sending the heroine (the remarkable Jeon Do-yeon) into a frenzied, desperate search for some kind of peace.
Her pain is almost too much for Mr. Lee’s deliberate style to contain — and there is something incomplete about the film, in spite of its length — but Ms. Jeon’s portrayal of a meek soul in torment is a tour de force.
Kim Ki-duk’s Breath was seriously upstaged by Lee Chang-dong’s film at Cannes in terms of media coverage. For many critics and journalists, maybe, Kim is a known quantity, turning out one or more films a year for a while now, all of which are distributed widely in the West; while Lee has been silent for a number of years since Oasis (2002), and his films in the past have tackled difficult issues, making them slightly less foreigner-friendly. Here’s hoping that Ms Jeon’s success will spark interest in Lee’s earlier work.
Below are some links to some of the festival coverage. I’ll add to the list as I come across any more.
Kim Ki-duk and Breath:
- Kim Ki-duk Wows Cannes Film Festival With ‘Breath’ – Chosun Ilbo, 21 May
- An impossible love affair unfolds in eye-catching fashion in the latest existential romance from Kim Ki-Duk – Dan Fainaru in ScreenDaily.com (HT to Jase at koreanfilm.org.uk)
Lee Chang-dong, Jeon Do-yeon and Secret Sunshine:
- Kirk Honeycutt at Hollywood Reporter – a balanced thumbs-up
- Anthony Kaufman at Indiewire: Secret Sunshine Lights Up Competition – brief, positive comments
- Luna6 at Lunapark6 – unbridled enthusiasm
- Derek Elley at Variety reportedly gives it a balanced thumbs down but I haven’t read the article yet as it contains a spoiler
- A mysterious journey of faith – Joan Dupont in the International Herald Tribune. HT to Korea Pop Wars for this link and the Reuters one below:
Most exciting for me, (comments Mark Russell) the story confirms my long-held suspicion that PEPPERMINT CANDY was inspired by a Harold Pinter play. I was sure Pinter wrote a play with a similar structure (going backwards in time), but I could never remember the name. Now I know — BETRAYAL.
- James Mackenzie at Reuters praises Jeon’s performance
- Highlights from Cannes press conference. Well worth a read.
- Thread at Koreanfilm.org
- Festival Distinguished by Its Strong Actresses – New York Times
- Darcy’s review of Secret Sunshine at Koreanfilm.org
- At Cannes, which country has the hottest stars? Stephen Cremin from Screen International is syndicated in the Hankyoreh. He counts up the number of Cannes films that individual stars appear in. So for “hottest” read “busiest”. Two Koreans appear in the top ten: 23-year-old Jung Kyung-ho and 37-year-old Park Wong-sang. Both have three films screening in the market, including Hwang Kyu-deok’s For Eternal Hearts and Kim Ji-hoon’s May 18.
- Korea Celebrates Cannes ’07 Success with Eye on Hollywood’s Challenge. Scroll down the page for an interview with Kim Hyae-joon from KOFIC.
- Lee Chang-dong’s Secret Sunshine gets early thumbs-up: LKL, 7 May
- Darcy’s predictions for 2007: you heard it at koreanfilm.org first: LKL, 11 Jan 2007
- Q’s tribute to Jeon at OhMyNews
And here’s the star’s acceptance speech:
Jeon Do-yeon was overjoyed: “Good evening. I can’t believe I’m up here. I heard that there were masses of wonderful actresses during the Festival; I hope that I might be able to represent them today. I am truly honored, in any case, to have this Prize; I don’t know how to receive it… Of course, I want to thank the Cannes Festival and the members of the Jury. I thank director Lee Chang-dong, who gave me the opportunity to play this role, and especially the actor Song Kang-ho, thanks to whom I was able to exist. I thank all of you who appreciated this film Secret Sunshine. I will never forget it, for the rest of my life. Thank you very much!”
At the laureates’ press conference, Jeon Do-yeon added this about her award: “It’s the first time I’ve come to a foreign festival. I was very honored to be invited to a festival as big as Cannes. Naturally, I’m delighted to have received this Best Actress award. Before the ceremony, I was really tense; I did all I could to relax, saying to myself that nothing would happen. The people around me wouldn’t stop talking to me about it, and I realy felt like hiding. I’d like to thank you all.”
And here’s a YouTube of her acceptance speech. Nice frock.