“A Korean family starts a farm in 1980s Arkansas.” -IMDB
If you’ve read this blog before, you may be familiar with my anti-awards stance. I think they are utter bullshit that basically compare apples and oranges, and only the apples and oranges that have enough money to have a full marketing campaign. But since the Academy Awards are the World Series of pop culture and since they sometimes do right by shining a light on worthwhile films, I’ve tried to see as many as possible leading up to Oscar night. And of the ones that I have seen thus far, Minari was far and away my favorite.
The story of a Korean family that moves from California to Arkansas in order to pursue the father’s dreams of running a farm and owning his own land, Minari is a candid, heartfelt film about the struggles and reality of an immigrant family pursuing the American Dream.
Not only did this film tackle important subjects such as the family’s feelings of isolation and the tension that severe financial woes can take on family and a marriage, but it also include lots of truly laugh-out-loud, hilarious moments. The children in this film, played by Alan Kim and Noel Cho (which let me reiterate a point from a few of my previous blogs: the best movies of the past five years have been led by kids, i.e. Jojo Rabbit, Wendy, and now Minari…contradict me I dare you), along with their grandmother, played by Yuh-Jung Young, bring moments of levity to the film at critical points that help alleviate the tension. It feels like you’re watching a real family, which means their relationships are not filled solely with drama or comedy, but a beautiful mixture of both.
It is one of the strongest ensemble performances I’ve seen, with each of the five actors bringing layered and complex performances to a story that ultimately focuses on the most universal theme: family. It is especially poignant given that it is a semi-autobiographical take on director Lee Issac Chung’s upbringing, which I hope you keep in mind as you watch it.
So, this is definitely the movie that I’ll be rooting for on April 25th for two reasons: 1) because it is the best film I’ve seen this year and 2) for more moments like this.
Rating: 9 out of 10 Claire Bears
If you like this movie, you should also see: Driveways, Burning, First Cow, Our Friend
Streaming: Available for purchase or rent.
With: Steven Yeun, Han Ye-ri, Alan Kim, Noel Cho, Yuh-Jung Youn, Will Patton
Directed By: Lee Issac Chung