MINARI (2020) – My rating: 8/10

Minari is a drama written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung. A semi-autobiographical take on Chung’s upbringing. The plot follows a South Korean immigrant family of four who tries to make it in rural America during the 1980s. In a word; Heartfelt! Minari is definitely worth seeing.

A Korean American family moves from California to their new plot of land in rural Arkansas. Jacob Yi (Steven Yeun) hopes to grow Korean produce and sell it to vendors in Dallas. As a father and breadwinner of his family, Jacob is making the biggest decision of his and his family’s life, one that his wife Monica Yi (Han Ye-Ri) does not agree with.  First, he decides to decline the services of a water diviner, to avoid paying for county water, then digs a well in a spot he finds on his own. Next, Jacob enlists the help of  Paul (Will Patton), an eccentric local guy and Korean war veteran. While Jacob is optimistic about the life ahead, his wife Monica grows increasingly disappointed and worries about their son David Yi’s (Alan Kim) heart condition. To make money, Jacob and Monica work dividing baby chicks at the nearby hatchery but argue constantly while David and his sister Anne Yi (Noel ate Cho) are within ear range.

To help with the kids, they arrange for Monica’s mother Soon-ja (Youn Yuh-Jung) to travel from South Korea and move in with the family. Despite Soon-ja’s efforts to bond with the children, David continuously avoids her because she doesn’t fit his idea of a grandmother image.  In the meanwhile, the well that Jacob dug runs dry, forcing him to finally pay for county water. He runs into additional difficulties, as the vendor in Dallas cancels their order at the last minute. Nonetheless, Jacob perseveres despite Monica’s verbal desire to return to California. His wife’s request has put more strain on their marriage, bringing them closer to the breaking point.

Minari is no “Parasite” but it does manage to tug at your heartstrings and noir on your emotions while detailing one immigrant family’s struggle to try to live the “American dream”.  Some parts of Minari are a little slow but remain interesting throughout the movie.  There is one part of Minari that actually caused me to stand up and cry uncontrollably while yelling at the screen as though I was there — now that’s good movie-making. You’ll never see what’s coming or how Minari will end.  I really loved this movie and fall right in line with all the kudos, awards, and nominations it has received. According to Rotten Tomatoes, 98% of 242 critic reviews of Minari were positive, with an average rating of 8.7/10. The site’s critic’s consensus reads: “Led by arresting performances from Steven Yeun and Yeri Han, Minari offers an intimate and heart-wrenching portrait of family and assimilation in 1980s America. Also at the 78th Golden Globe Awards, the film won the Best Foreign Language Film.  Minari can be currently rented on Prime Video for $19.99 — Check It Out!

[MINARI Is Oscar-nominated at the 93rd Academy Awards for Best: Picture, Actor,  Supporting Actress, Director, Original Score, and Original screenplay — Totaling 6 Oscar Nominations]

 

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