Movie Review: Minari (2021)

Title: Minari
Release Date: February 12, 2021
Director: Lee Isaac Chung
Production Company: A24 | Plan B Entertainment

It’s a familiar story: A man with a dream leads his family to a strange place to pursue his vision.  In this case, the man is Jacob Yi (Steven Yuen, who was great in tv series like The Walking Dead and Tuca & Bertie), a Korean immigrant in the early 1980s who moves his family from California to Arkansas where he buys land he can turn into a farm and raise Korean vegetables for growing immigrant communities in nearby cities.  His wife Monica (Han Ye-ri) is less than pleased about giving up the comforts and community of the city for a double-wide trailer in “hillbilly” country.  She’s especially that their younger child David (Alan Kim), who has a condition, is too far urgent medical care he may need.  In order to provide child care for David and his sister Anne (Noel Kate Cho), Monica arranges for her mother Soon-ja (Youn Yuh-jung) to move from Korea to live with them.

The movie explores the dissolution of Jacob and Monica’s marriage as their individual hopes and dreams lead them in different directions.  It also does an amazing job depicting Soon-ja’s fish-out-of-water experience among fish-out-of-water and her tempestuous relationship with David with whom she shares stubbornness and mischievous behavior.  A lot of the movie is told from David’s perspective which lends it a sense of child-like wonder.  The movie offers a lot of intimacy and heart-wrenching details of  family dealing with crises and the struggles of everyday life. Every in this movie deserves an award, especially Alan Kim and Youn Yuh-jung, and the movie itself is definitely one of the best of recent vintage.

Rating: ****

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