Coming of age films were a huge part of the Korean breakout hits of 2011. These dark horses have not only won film critics’ praise for months but have had audiences talking too. One of the main ones among all the buzz was SUNNY (써니). SUNNY is officially one of the highest grossing films of 2011 in Korea. The funny thing is no matter how much I heard about the film’s popularity I could never quite get an idea of what the movie was about. Some people said it was a musical, some said a comedy and some said a drama. After seeing it, I would say it’s a mixture of all three but still not the best film as a whole. I’ll get into that later but now lets talk about the people behind the movie.
First off there’s the director, Kang Hyeong Cheol (강형철). This year, there also seems to be a trend for novice directors gaining immense notoriety, especially for scriptwriters turned directors. This is only Kang’s second film, and script, and look at the outcome. SUNNY follows the same style as his first film, SPEEDY SCANDAL (과속 스캔들), although, in terms of story and continuity, I think SPEEDY SCANDAL was better executed. When talking about the cast, the story goes between the past and the present so the cast has a mixture of age and experience. Each member of the cast had their moments but I think the stand outs were 17 year old actress Shim Eun Kyeong (심은경) as young Nami and well-known character actress Go Soo Hee (고수희) as Jang Mi. I personally like performances that have a free-spirited nature to them and I found that with both of these actresses.
SUNNY is the story of a group of high school friends who have parted ways after growing up. Nami (Yoo Ho Jeong – 유호정) runs into the leader of her group, Chun Hwa (Jin Hee Kyeong – 진희경) while visiting her mother in the hospital. Chun Hwa is dying from cancer and her last wish is to see the whole group of friends again. Nami then hires a detective to find the women and in the process reminisces about the past and reinvigorates her own dull life.
Now on to the story. Honestly, I wasn’t impressed. I may have mentioned before that I’m not a fan of films that don’t have a natural progression. If not, I’m saying it now. It’s a huge pet peeve to see movies that jump from people just meeting to suddenly being the closest of friends. The whole reason why they care is missing. Maybe it was a problem with the script or it could be editing but, for me, that left a big hole in this movie. I’m not saying the film as a whole was a failure. It definitely had its positive points where I was pulled in but I have no idea how it came to be one of the biggest films of the year. Please see for yourself but I was expecting a lot more with SUNNY and, I have to say, that I feel like it came up short.
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