Sunny is a story that challenges traditional ideas of what should make a married woman happy. Rather than finding happiness in her upper class life, Na-mi instead finds happiness with her childhood friends.
Sunny is a beautiful story about the current life of the protagonist- Na-mi, and her every day interactions as an upper class wife and mother. This story is interspersed with flashbacks of a group of high school girls, called Sunny, who overcome bullies and build a friendship that is meant to last each of their lifetimes.
In one of the first segments of the movie, the audience views Na-mi’s interaction with her current husband and daughter. Her daughter blatantly disrespects her, ignoring her comments and going to her father rather than her mother. When it flashes back to Na-mi’s time, we see that Na-mi was just as late and disorganized as her daughter, but there is the clear difference of respect. This makes it clear to the audience that current Na-mi is missing something important, something that doesn’t necessarily come with the successful husband, beautiful daughter, and upper class lifestyle. Lack of respect from her husband and daughter seem to contribute to her lack of happiness in the first segment of the movie.
Young Na-mi, while living a hectic lifestyle, is more happy than present day Na-mi. The audience sees this in the amount of smiles (or lack there of) from Na-mi when interacting with her daughter or getting money from her husband compared to the past when Sunny was solidified and she was constantly smiling. Over time the audience is able to see the evolution of current Na-mi. When she is re-introduced to the leader of the group Chun-Hwa, her demeanor quickly improves. As she finds each member of Sunny, Na-mi smiles more and more. None of this new found happiness has anything to do with being a wife or mother, but rather, about being a friend.
The greatest example of this in the movie is when we see the fight sequence in Sunny with the seven girls and their seven bully counterparts. While somewhat violent for Sunny, they ultimately run away from the fight smiling and together. We see that in present day, when Na-mi and other members of Sunny fight high school girls because they bullied her daughter. Na-mi fights because she loves her daughter, but she finds the courage to do this because she is surrounded by her old group of friends. There is little doubt that the woman in the beginning of the movie would have not have beaten up high school girls on her own. Power comes to each of the members of Sunny by being in Sunny. As each member of Sunny is reunited Na-mi becomes more happy and stronger. Once again, this strength does not come from her husband or her upper class lifestyle.
Traditionally, women are meant to seek happiness in their duties. Na-mi’s current duties are to take care of her husband and daughter. She is surrounded by all of these wonderful luxuries, but she is actually at her happiest eating a banana on Chun-Hwa’s hospital bed, surrounded by Sunny. Na-mi finds happiness outside of her traditional role, and by doing this becomes a stronger and more complete version of herself.
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