×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sunny

As perfect as a whole day of sunshine, Korean femme-centric ensembler "Sunny" is a warm ray of cinematic light that elicits joy and tears in equal measure.

With:
With: Yu Ho-jeong, Jin Hui-gyeong, Shim Eun-gyeong, Gang So-ra, Park Jin-ju, Kim Bo-mi, Kim Min-yeong, Nam Bo-ra, Min Hyo-rin, Goh Su-hui, Kim Seon-gyeong.

As perfect as a whole day of sunshine, Korean femme-centric ensembler “Sunny” is a warm ray of cinematic light that elicits joy and tears in equal measure. Ably combining the coming-of-age and midlife crisis genres, Kang Hyoung-chul’s sophomore effort plays something like a richer, tastier Korean version of Hollywood weepie “Now and Then” (1995). Its socko local haul of $47 million won’t be eclipsed offshore, but the film could glow internationally, since it explores issues familiar to auds everywhere, albeit with a distinct kimchi flavor.

(Korean dialogue)

Pic’s pivotal character is Im Na-mi (Yu Ho-jeong), first met as a well-to-do, taken-for-granted housewife who accidentally learns that her high-school friend Chun-hwa (Jin Hui-gyeong) has been hospitalized with terminal cancer. Thrilled to see her old buddy again, Chun-hwa requests that Na-mi get their former teen gang — known collectively as Sunny — back together for a reunion before Chun-hwa dies; they’ll have to act fairly quickly, since Chun-hwa isn’t expected to live more than two months longer..

Na-mi sets out to fulfill Chun-hwa’s wish by checking in first with a former teacher. As Na-mi walks up the path to her old school, Kang uses a 360-degree pan to jump back 25 years to the 1980s, when teenage country bumpkin Na-mi (now played by Shim Eun-gyeong) was the new kid at her Seoul high school.

The flashback allows the script to introduce the whole Sunny crew: feisty young Chun-hwa (Gang So-ra), who always had more faith in Na-mi’s talents than she ever did; foul-mouthed Jin-hui (Park Jin-ju); pretty airhead Bok-hui (Kim Bo-mi); overweight, plastic surgery-obsessed Jang-mi (Kim Min-yeong); violent bookworm Geom-ok (Nam Bo-ra); and too-cool-for-school aspiring fashion model Su-ji (Min Hyo-rin). All are charmed to varying degrees by Na-mi’s honest if awkward style.

The film cycles back and forth between past and present with ease, handling the seven protags (multiplied by two) and a flood of subsidiary characters without ever losing its balance or momentum. While tissues should be issued at cinema exit doors, it’s the pic’s robust humor that puts the hook in. Kang’s script manages to offer up a deft depiction of teen life while perfectly capturing the swift changes that have transformed South Korea in the past 30 years.

Pic’s fabulous and funny centerpiece is a downtown standoff between Sunny and a rival distaff gang, their battle coinciding with an attack on a left-wing demonstration by Korea’s Fifth Republic militia. Set to “Touch by Touch” (a track by Austrian group Joy, a 1980s Korean pop sensation), and taking place underneath a theater placard for the anti-communist-themed “Rocky 4,” this hilarious but breathtaking sequence reps a showpiece for the technical expertise Kang demonstrates throughout.

Pic’s teen thesps are uniformly terrific. Likewise, the thesps who play their grown-up counterparts heartwarmingly embody the foibles of adults whose dreams were unfulfilled. Supporting cast is also flawless.

Slick lensing by Lee Hyung-deok capitalizes on the superb production design of Lee Yo-han, which contrasts the monochromatic sophistication of contempo corporate Seoul with the bubble-gum pop colors of the 1980s.

Version caught at the Busan fest was a director’s cut that clocked in at 11 minutes longer than the version first released commercially in South Korea in August. Differences include more vivid teacher-inflicted violence and more profanity from Jin-hui than was first thought commercially viable. At press time, some music used on the director’s cut soundtrack, including Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time,” had yet to be cleared for international play.

Sunny

South Korea

Production: A CJ Entertainment presentation of a Toilet Pictures, Aloha Pictures production. (International sales: CJ Entertainment, Seoul.) Produced by Ahn Byung-ki, Ahn In-ki. Executive producer, Katherine Kim. Co-producer, Lee An-na. Directed, written by Kang Hyoung-chul.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Lee Hyung-deok; editor, Nam Na-young; music, Kim Jun-seok; production designer, Lee Yo-han; costume designer, Chae Kyung-hwa; sound (Dolby Digital), Lee Seung-yup. Reviewed at Busan Film Festival (Korean Cinema Today), Oct. 13, 2011. Running time: 135 MIN.

With: With: Yu Ho-jeong, Jin Hui-gyeong, Shim Eun-gyeong, Gang So-ra, Park Jin-ju, Kim Bo-mi, Kim Min-yeong, Nam Bo-ra, Min Hyo-rin, Goh Su-hui, Kim Seon-gyeong.

More Film

  • With PGA win, 'Green Book' is

    Oscars: With PGA Victory, 'Green Book' Becomes Best Picture Frontrunner

    Save for a pair of recent back-to-back discrepancies in “The Big Short” and “La La Land,” the Producers Guild’s Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Theatrical Motion Pictures has been a fairly reliable barometer for the annual Oscar season outcome. At least, ever since both the PGA and film Academy expanded their top categories, sharing the [...]

  • Peter Farrelly30th Annual Producers Guild Awards,

    PGA Awards: 'Green Book' Wins Top Feature Film Award

    “Green Book” has won the Producers Guild’s Darryl F. Zanuck Award as the top feature film of 2018. The 1960s drama-comedy topped “BlacKkKlansman,” “Black Panther” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Favourite,”  “A Quiet Place,” “Roma,” “A Star Is Born” and “Vice. “When you make ‘Dumb and Dumber’ you never expect to get an award,” [...]

  • Netflix HQ LA

    Andy Gruenberg, Veteran Film Executive, Dies at 68

    Veteran film executive Andy Gruenberg, who most recently oversaw theatrical distribution at Netflix, died suddenly on Friday. He was 68. Gruenberg worked on classic films like “Ghostbusters,” “Karate Kid” and “Silverado” while at Columbia Pictures in the 80s and 90s. He then moved to MGM where he served as exec VP of distribution. There he [...]

  • Fyre Festival Caterer Receives Thousands in

    Unpaid Fyre Festival Caterer Raises Thousands in Donations on GoFundMe

    As two Fyre Festival documentaries hit the airwaves, a couple who say their credit was ruined due to the Fyre Festival’s lack of payment for their services have raised $54,381 at time of publication on GoFundMe. Elvis and Maryann Rolle wrote on their page that they catered “no less than 1000 meals per day” in [...]

  • DF-10956_R – Gwilym Lee (Brian May) and

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Producer Confirms Bryan Singer's Reason for Leaving, Says 'No One' Was Attached to Play Mercury

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King provided insight into some of the events surrounding the Golden Globe-winning film Saturday at the Producers Guild Awards Nominees Breakfast, including director Bryan Singer’s departure from the film partway through production. “It’s an unfortunate situation, with like 16, 17 days to go and Bryan Singer just had some issues, his [...]

  • Author Tony Mendez arrives at the

    Tony Mendez, Former CIA Officer Depicted in 'Argo,' Dies at 78

    Tony Mendez, the former CIA technical operations officer who orchestrated the 1980 rescue of six American diplomats from Iran and who was portrayed by Ben Affleck in the Academy Award winning film “Argo,” has died. He was 78. Mendez’s book agent, Christy Fletcher, announced the news on Twitter Saturday morning. “Early this morning, Antonio (Tony) [...]

  • Glass Movie

    'Glass' to Rank in Top 3 MLK Debuts With $48 Million

    M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” is on its way to a solid debut with an estimated $48 million for the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. A sequel to 2000’s “Unbreakable” and 2017’s “Split,” the Universal superhero thriller should bring in around $41 million from 3,841 domestic locations over the Friday through Sunday period. The estimates are [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content