Luke McWilliams gives his review of the 2020 drama film, Minari, starring Steven Yeun and Han Ye-ri.
In the 1980s, the Korean-American Yi family arrive at their new 50-acre plot in rural Arkansas. Away from their mundane chicken-sexing job in California, patriarch Jacob (Steven Yeun) passionately plans to grow Korean fruit and vegetables to sell to vendors in Dallas. Jacob’s wife Monica (Han Ye-ri) however does not share her husband’s joy and worries about their young son David’s (Alan Kim) heart condition. Soon the duo arranges for Monica’s mother Soon-Ja (Youn Yuh-jung) to move in for the benefit of the family.
Based on the writer-director’s real-life experiences, Minari is multifaceted; it is as simple or as complex as one wants it to be. Following the Yi family as they journey even further into the heart of America, Jacob searches for the American dream, determined to provide for his family whilst also paying homage to his roots to pass his legacy to David. Monica, however, feels the pull back to the relative safety, albeit restrictiveness, of California.
Through David’s eyes, the gambling and potty-mouthed Soon-Ja is representative of Korea. Having never met her before or seen Korea, the cherub-faced David is a product of two worlds, finding difficulty reconciling the fact Soon-Ja does not measure up to the preconceived notions of a stereotypical Western grandmother.
Verdict: A beautiful story about strong characters told simply illustrating the immigrant experience. Like the minari plant, the family is humble, useful, resilient, and thrives on very little. 4.5 stars.
- Luke McWilliams | themovieclub.net