Available at cinemas and on-demand.
Written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung, is this gentle and charming story of a young Korean family, the Yi’s, set in Regans 1980’s free enterprise driven United States. Jacob (Steven Yeun) has uprooted his family from their Californian home to 50 acres of potential farmland in Arkansas. Wife, Monica (Yeri Han) is less than impressed with the “house on wheels” she finds for her and the children, Anne (Noel Cho) and David (Alan S. Kim). They are not the American dream family, their relationship is clearly strained by the upheaval, financial pressure and concerns about David’s heart condition. To this they are about to add Soonja (Yuh Jung Youn), Monica’s mum, who is not your usual grandma material.
In all honesty I was not as bowled over by Minari as some, but that’s not to say there isn’t much to enjoy. It’s not the classic rags to riches story, even if it does have some of the ingredients. In reality this is less about a chase for success and more a gentle portrait of life, its ups and in the Yi’s case, its heartwrenching downs.
The storytelling and the cast paint a very engaging picture, with characters who you care about and a family whose story you want to see work. But we also see the difficulties of a family trying to make its way in the world, without losing touch with its Korean roots.
The performances are full of gentle charm, with, as her Oscar would suggest, many a scene stolen by Youn’s grandma. Alongside her is a lovely performance from Will Patton as Paul, a god fearing local, whose helpful and hopeful nature counteracts Jacobs concerns and pressures.
While I wasn’t completely blown away, I do love a slow meandering story about life and Minari’s story is full of charm, very watchable and touching.