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Published February 21st 2021
A film about what roots us
Minari is the fifth film by Lee Isaac Chung and is inspired by his childhood. This tender and heartfelt story is set in the early 1980s and follows a Korean-American family who moves to a tiny rural Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream.
The autobiographical takes us on the Yi family's journey. They try to sustain a farm and their lives change completely when Monica's (Yeri Han) high-spirited, foul-mouthed, but incredibly loving mother Soonja (Youn Yuh-jung) comes to live with them.
Jacob (Steven Yeun) has a plan, a dream to turn his large 50-acre remote land into a farm, growing Korean vegetables to sell to other immigrant families. Monica is unsure of this plan, and is concerned about what it might mean for their family and wants to leave.
Their adorable son Jacob (Alan S Kim) has a heart murmur, and his mischief behaviour causes him not to care, adding further strain on his parents. While his sister Anne (Noel Cho) is restless and hates their new life in the country, and wants to leave.
The film showcases a whirlwind of emotions from instability, challenges, family resilience, and what really makes a home.
This delicately told tale is filled with emotions, and moments, where the entire cinema audience burst into hysteric laughter, delivered mainly by Soonja.
Minari (a leafy green vegetable, sometimes called water celery or water dropwort is popular in Korean cooking) is a film that comes to life from the children making paper aeroplanes with the words "Don't fight" as their parents bicker, to the overwhelming excitement when Monica's mother arrives from South Korea with packed bags of chilli powder and anchovies, to the weirdness of Paul (Will Patton) who helps Jacob on the farm.
This heart touching movie was filled with authenticity and engrossment. It was relatable in many ways from heartache to dreaming big, and featured an ending no one saw coming.
Minari, is a film where you can relate to; from persevering to feeling there is no hope. It showcases the struggle to get a business off the ground, family resilience and a sense of familiarity.