A Korean family relocates from California to Arkansas to start
a farm, but a difficult start threatens the family's stability.
Written and Directed by Lee Isaac Chung
Starring Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Alan S. Kim,
Noel Cho, Yuh-jung Youn, Will Patton
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actor (Steven Yeun),
Best Supporting Actress (Yuh-jung Youn), Best Director,
Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score (Emile Mosseri)
Minari is another film I've waited quite a while to see. Covid knocked this one out of a legit theatrical release last fall, and now it's finally available to rent on Prime and Vudu. It's a powerful drama about a Korean family in the 1980's who start a farm in Arkansas, and must figure out a way to make money and keep things together during a difficult season. It's got some lulls, and the ending is rather abrupt, but the message is resoundingly clear and the performances are fantastic. This is a film about hope and family, and how a lot of us can't have one without the other.
Steven Yeun and Yeri Han play Jacob and Monica Yi, a Korean couple who move from California to Arkansas along with their two children Anne (Cho) and David (Kim). Jacob's dream is to be self-sustaining and not have to break his back supporting his family through menial labor. Monica doesn't believe in the dream, and thinks starting a farm is a bad idea. When Monica's mother Soonja (Youn) moves in with them, she bonds with David and things begin to look up/ But fate and circumstance work hand in hand to mess things up, and Jacob and Monica must decide whether this project is worth the strain on their family and their marriage.
Despite being almost entirely in Korean, many critics have called this one of the most American movies in decades, as it encapsulates the American dream in totality. I agree. It's a well-acted, well-written, and clearly personal story that actually paints Arkansas in a decent light, which I was not expecting. The people are friendly to the Yi family and they never have any sort of cultural or racial blowback. It's nice to have a film that's fairly optimistic, even if it's only cautiously optimistic.