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Sunny ("Sseoni")

Quebec Premiere
  • South Korea
  • 2011
  • 124 mins
  • DCP
  • Korean
  • English (subtitles)
WINNER: Best Director, Best Editing, Daejong Film Awards 2011
Official Selection, Busan International Film Festival 2011
Official Selection, Udine Far East Film Festival 2012
Official Selection, Osaka Asian Film Festival 2012

“Wickedly funny and wholeheartedly tender… totally infectious” — Maggie Lee, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“Genuinely funny humour… truly moving drama… an altogether incredibly engaging tale” — Paul Quinn, HANGUL CELLULOID

“Quel que soit votre âge, sexe ou nationalité, vous devenez une ado coréenne devant SUNNY!” — Victor Lopez, EASTASIA

On the surface, housewife Na-mi’s life looks idyllic, with a nice house, a wealthy husband and a beautiful daughter. But she feels a quiet emptiness inside. Something is missing. Visiting her mother-in-law in the hospital one day, she passes the room of another patient. Could it be the same Chun-wa she went to high school with? That passing moment opens up a box of forgotten memories for Na-mi, spilling forth vivid recollections of her teen years in the 1980s. The baggy, brightly coloured clothes, the politics and the pop-music hits of the era, the schoolyard catfights and the first tastes of adult life. More than anything, it’s her gang of best friends she reflects on, a diverse band of girls who stood through thick and thin together — Sunny, they called themselves. Now, 25 years later, Chun-wa is dying. Time is running out. Na-mi sets out to find the scattered members of their clique, to perform one last dance routine together…

Coinciding with last year’s swell of ’80s nostalgia in South Korea, SUNNY reached third place among the country’s top-10 box office draws of 2011. It’s not hard to see why. Writer/director Kang Hyeong-cheol, who brought us SCANDAL MAKERS, deftly avoids the potential pitfalls of the emotion-packed comedy-drama — SUNNY is poignant, acutely so, but never maudlin. It’s also utterly hilarious (an epic girl-fight amid a brutal political riot is one particularly inspired episode, and come prepared to learn a vast array of Korean cuss words!) yet resolutely respectful of its characters, which Kang sketches out with ample insight and verve. Each of Sunny’s seven members is a distinctive and memorable personality, all the more so as their grown-up selves are revealed one by one, and the crackerjack cast Kang assembled proved itself a match for the material. Sliding fluidly between past and present, equipped with copious wit and empathy, Kang examines the complex bonds of friendship that girls build among themselves — and that the women they become still draw on so many years later.

— Rupert Bottenberg