Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Secret Ray Of Sunshine

Her name may not inspire instant recognition with the average movie goer, however for pundits of international cinema - and followers of the burgeoning Korean film industry - Jeon Do-Youn represents a beacon of light on the worldwide screen scene. With a background in television drama that provided ample training for her cinematic debut in Chang Yoon-Hyun’s The Contact, she quickly made a splash as a consummate actress with the enviable range to play everything from a doctor (A Promise), a prostitute (You Are My Sunshine), an adulteress (Happy End), a schoolgirl (Harmonium in my Memory), a schoolteacher (I Wish I Had a Wife), and even against herself (My Mother The Mermaid), collecting a spate of awards and admirers along the way.

Yet despite a short but solid career switching genres, styles and characters with ease - including the pivotal part of the virginal conquest in Untold Scandal (the Korean adaptation of Les Liaisons dangereuses - better known as Dangerous Liaisons) - it was her role as a widow drawn to her husband’s home town in Lee Chang-dong’s acclaimed 2007 character drama Secret Sunshine that cemented Do-Youn’s position as her nation’s most talented and celebrated actress. Screening at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival (and receiving the coveted Best Actress prize as well as a nomination for the Palme d’Or), Secret Sunshine is a tour-de-force of grief and resilience depicted on film, in a lyrical and emotive feature rightfully applauded by critics across the globe.

Amidst the international acclaim directed at the overwhelmingly powerful and personal effort, it is Do-Youn that stands out as the film’s secret ray of sunshine, as its title suggests. Earning best actress accolades from the Grand Bell, Director's Cut, Blue Dragon, Korean Film, Women in Film Korea, Asia Pacific Screen, Asian Film, and Korean Critics Association Awards, she inhabits her character with such pathos and poignancy that her nuanced performance lingers in the mind for minutes, hours and days after viewing.

Continuing her exquisite form in Im Sang-Soo’s thriller The Housemaid (as evidenced by her further awards nominations, including an Asian Film nod), Do-Youn continues to impress. A master at portraying emotionally, morally and fatally comprised characters, over ten brief years she has developed to become the focal point of an industry itself just beginning to shine. What the future holds for this enigmatic and expressive thespian is yet to be seen, but one thing is for certain - it will be bright.

Secret Sunshine screens on Australia's SBS television on March 25th at 9:40pm.

Sarah is the Editor of DVD Bits and The Reel Bits. She can be found on Twitter at @swardplay, and contacted via email at sarah@thereelbits.com.

No comments:

Post a Comment