Genre: Drama |
Runtime: 115 min
Director: Lee Isaac Chung
Starring: Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Alan S. Kim
Yearning to own a small patch of land and be more than a chicken sexer, the ambitious paterfamilias, Jacob Yi, relocates his Korean-American family, sceptical wife, Monica, and their children, David and Anne, from California to 1980s rural Arkansas, to start afresh and capture the elusive American Dream. However, new beginnings are always challenging, and to find out what is best for the family, let alone start a 50-acre farm to grow and sell Korean fruits and vegetables, is easier said than done. But, amid sincere promises, cultural unease, fleeting hopes, and the ever-present threat of financial disaster, Jacob is convinced that he has found their own slice of Eden in the rich, dark soil of Arkansas. Can grandma Soon-ja’s humble but resilient minari help the Yi family figure out their place in the world?
CAPTIVATING, TRAGIC AND EMOTIONAL
The drama about a Korean family moving to Arkansas in an 80’s America is captivating, touching, and somewhat tragic. As many movies in where a family is moving to a new city or house could be off-putting in some sense. But for this family, it feels right as they are motivated for a better life as farmers. As understandable, it doesn’t go their way, but it still is a great motivator for these characters to move to the countryside.
Director and screenwriter Lee Isaac Chung creates a family with characters of personal growth. Steven Yeun’s Jacob is the estranged father with a goal he cannot accomplish. Yeri Han plays Monica who tries hard to take care of their two children, David and Anne. Now David gets more moments in the sun than his sister. Yuh-Jung Youn brings on Soon-ja, a charismatic and occasionally provocative grandmother that initially turns everything upside and down.
Not to mention the God-praying neighbor who shows up whenever necessary to help Jacob with the farm. There are some scenes that don’t all make sense due to there’s so sublime and concrete build-up. It just happens unexpectedly for no apparent reason. The drama process quite slow but it becomes a natural thing as it tries to establish its run to some gruesome climax that becomes a sort of underwhelming. It’s not the typical family film but it’s non the less a film about a family that struggles and comes from hardship, which makes it easy to sympathize with these characters. They all have a role to play, and it just plays out naturally to these characters.
The soundtrack from Emile Mosseri keeps the story lowkey throughout the runtime and the beautiful shot drama is often effectivebut not severe or moderate. It’s just there for the dramatic effect or because it says so in the screenplay. Essentially, it’s about keeping on to your dream, fail and retry again. Keep the hope up but meet the consequences. Grandma Soon-ja becomes the beacon to this family and shakes things up in the family, even with her sudden demise. The ending doesn’t come suddenly but the build-up with the scenes before makes it atrocious and confusing. Questions that don’t give answers make the story feel unfinished in a way. Despite the fair tone and the family life, it is easy to like these characters much to the strong acting and the emotion they evoke. However, something just happens for the film and doesn’t make sense which pushes you out of the film’s world.
Last year’s big winner was Parasite, hopefully, it’s Minari this time as well.