ContactSales: Prain Global, Seoul ([email protected])
Premiere: Puchon Fantastic Film Festival (Vision Express), 20 Jul 2013. Theatrical release: TBA.
Produced by Prain Global (SK). Executive producer: Yeo Jun-yeong. Producers: Lee Jong-ho, Lee Jae-seok.
Script: Jo Eun-sung. Photography: Jeong Seong-uk. Editing: Kim Jeong-hun. Music: White Tone. Art direction: Kim Yu-mi. Costumes: Kim Yu-jin. Sound: Park Hyeon-su.
Cast: Oh Jeong-se (Han Gil-ho), Jo Eun-ji (Kim Jeong-suk), Song Sam-dong (Min-gu), Park Jae-cheol (Park), Lee Mi-do (Seong-hui), Kim Geun-a (Jeong-suk's mother).
Sunshine Love 썬샤인 러브
Contemporary romantic comedy
2013, colour, 16:9, 79 mins
Directed by Jo Eun-sung (조은성)
By Derek Elley
Thu, 03 October 2013, 16:30 PM (HKT)
Unobtrusive, indie-style rom-com has two good leads and a likeable tone. Asian events.
Seoul, the present day. Han Gil-ho (Oh Jeong-se) still dreams of becoming a public servant by passing the civil service exam, but has so far failed. He spends his time hanging out with his slacker pals Park (Park Jae-cheol), who similarly dreams of joining the police force, and Min-gu (Song Sam-dong). When Min-gu gets his girlfriend Seong-hui (Lee Mi-do) pregnant, her best friend Kim Jeong-suk (Jo Eun-ji) gets angry on her behalf and urges her to make Min-gu stand up to his responsibilities. Gil-ho tags along to the meeting, and he and Jeong-suk realise they knew each other years ago at university, when she was geeky and similarly hot-tempered and Gil-ho couldn't stand her. They end up going to a party together and Gil-ho wakes up in her bed next morning. Jeong-suk has a regular job as a manager at a water-purifying company; Gil-ho's real interest is writing a kung-fu comicbook, and has been working on one called I'm a Public Official, featuring a crime-fighting bureaucrat and his two nerdy friends. He and Jeong-suk start happily living together, and he gets an offer from a comicbook publisher. But his lack of ambition and inability to commit to anything start to take their toll on their relationship.
A very likeable, romantic comedy of manners that recalls a kindlier age in South Korean cinema, Sunshine Love 썬샤인 러브 (2013) is an impressive feature debut by writer-director JO Eun-sung 조은성 that doesn't re-write the rule book in any way but quietly achieves a lot on a minimal budget, fine lead performances and well-observed characters. Though it doesn't quite have the substance of another recent debut, the similar two-character rom-com Very Ordinary Couple 연애의 온도 (2013) by ROH Deok 노덕 | 盧德, and could well pass under the radar because of its unobtrusive qualities, it still makes Jo — who has a couple of shorts under his belt, plus stints as a directing assistant on the comedy Sex is Zero 2 색즉시공 시즌 ２ (2007) and thriller Eye for an Eye 눈에는 눈 이에는 이 (2007) — a name to follow.
Unlike Couple, Love is more of a slacker rom-com — or at least, centred on what happens when a not-so-young slacker meets a focused, somewhat bipolar career woman. The fact that she is only a careerist in comparison with him, and that they had a fractious history some time earlier at university, is the icing on the cake. The movie is essentially about the man's lack of ambition and inability to commit to anything: he says his dream is to become a government bureaucrat (though he keeps failing the entrance exam) but his real interest, apart from loafing around with his equally slacker pals, is writing kung-fu comicbooks (though when he gets an offer from a publisher, he prevaricates because of the hard work).
Character comedies like this depend on the right casting and, though operating on an indie budget, Jo has wisely cast two experienced leads, both in their 30s and both usually in supporting roles. As the mop-topped, not-so-young geek, 36-year-old OH Jeong-se 오정세 | 吳政世, who graduated from roles like the best friend in Petty Romance 쩨쩨한 로맨스 (2010) and computer geek in Running Man 런닝맨 (2013) to the lead in rom-com How to Use Guys with Secret Tips 남자사용설명서 (2013), is just right. Throughout, he underplays to lynx-eyed JO Eun-ji 조은지 | 趙恩智, who's travelled from the young hooker in Tears 눈물 (2000) to the scheming maid in The Concubine 후궁 제왕의 첩 (2012), as his sometimes loving, sometimes hot-tempered partner. Jo, 32, steals a lot of scenes with her sudden outbursts, and has a lot of fun playing a nerdy, younger version of herself in flashbacks; but despite its apparent imbalance, the central chemistry works a treat, even up to the usual will-they/won't-they finale.
A couple of sequences visualise the anti-hero's comicbooks by economically sending up trashy South Korean action movies of the '70s; but the film wisely concentrates on the main relationship rather than becoming a wannabe-action-hero fantasy. Throughout, the mix of character comedy and romance is nicely sustained, and the well-composed photography by JEONG Seong-uk 정성욱 (Time Between Dog and Wolf 개와 늑대 사이의 시간 (2005), The Neighbors 이웃사람 (2012)) gives the film a solid professional look. The lively, poppy music score keeps things moving across a just-right 80 minutes that don't overstretch the material.
The original title is simply a Kringlish version of the English one.