Starring: Yoo Ho-jeong, Shim Eun-kyung, Kang So-ra
Director: Kang Hyeong-cheol
Running Time: 124 mins
Sunny is a South Korean film about a woman who, upon learning of her childhood best friend’s terminal illness, decides to reunite her gang of lively friends from back in high school, the best years of their lives.
As a massive hit in South Korea upon release, and the inspiration for Go-Go Sisters (one of my favourite films of the past few years), I had high expectations going into Sunny, so I’m delighted to say that it’s every bit as wonderful as I could have hoped for. A bright, vibrant and heartwarming film with a deeply nostalgic heart, Sunny will have you smiling from beginning to end, combining a wonderful look back to childhood with a thoroughly moving display of friendship all the way through.
There’s so much that I loved about Sunny, but the one thing that I can’t forget about it is just how rich and moving its emotional depth is. Nostalgia is often an easy target to tug at your heartstrings or make you smile, but there are few films that really get to the crux of what makes nostalgia so powerful, and display that in such wonderful fashion.
Sunny, on the other hand, is a film with such genuine emotion that you can’t help but fall entirely in love with all of its characters (and there are a lot), playing beautifully on themes of nostalgia, yet bringing the strength of friendship and the power of childhood memories to the core of the film’s heart. That’s a theme that anyone can wholeheartedly relate to, and the passion in which the film carries that through its story is what makes it such a surprisingly moving watch.
Of course, as well as being an emotionally impressive and enthralling film, Sunny’s other greatest success lies in the fact that it’s just so wonderful. Nostalgia aside, its bright, energetic and vibrant attitude throughout left me beaming from beginning to end, while the huge ensemble cast – including a good thirteen lead actresses – are all just as delightful as one another, with the film’s core friendship shining through in their wonderful and heartfelt performances, making their efforts to reunite years after they parted ways all the more convincing, and all the more touching.
Also, the film really surprises with its screenplay, which takes on a premise that’s been seen many times before, and tie it together better than almost any other film before. While nostalgia and a look back to the past often sees a division between the stories of the younger version of characters and the present-day version, it’s a premise that can often lead to imbalance and jarring screenwriting.
However, Sunny doesn’t suffer from that in the slightest, with the perfect balance of focus between the old days and the present day. In that, you have two thoroughly enjoyable stories for the price of one, and as they link together through the spectre of memory and nostalgia throughout, you become all the more engrossed in the characters as you learn where they all came from, and where they all ended up.
In the end, Sunny is an absolutely delightful film. If I quickly compare it to its 2018 Vietnamese remake – Go-Go Sisters – I’ll say that it doesn’t quite have the pleasantly rebellious energy of the remake, which is what often makes that film so deliriously entertaining through its first two acts, where Sunny occasionally drags. On the flipside, Sunny’s final act is far superior to Go-Go Sisters, although both films are true delights, and both definitely deserve your time.
Overall, I loved Sunny. A wonderfully nostalgic film that hits every emotional beat spot-on, it’s an engrossing and hugely enjoyable watch that impresses with a strong screenplay, a fantastic ensemble cast, and thoroughly moving emotion, which is why I’m giving it an 8.3.