Minari Movie Review

In select theaters February 12th and On Demand February 26th

 

“Minari” is a refreshing look at the struggles and triumphs of a family. Originally from Korea, this family immigrated to America to live in L.A. and then relocated to Arkansas. They are seemingly out-of-place in a very rural farm site. But the father’s desire to be a successful farmer is the driving force to keep them together.

 

 

The Yi family are led by Jacob (played by Steven Yeun) and his wife Monica (played by Han Ye-ri). They have a daughter named Anne (played by Noel Kate Cho) and a younger son named David (played by Alan Kim). Monica is not pleased that they left the urban city that she was used to, only to wind up in this “hillbilly place”. Jacob has a large plot of land ad they need to live in a trailer. Jacob gets a use tractor from a local guy named Paul (played by Will Patton). Paul is a big ‘Holy Roller’ type, but he is happy to work the farm with Jacob.

 

Jacob and Monica work at a local chicken farm, and Jacob spends his spare time creating his farm. He wants to specialize in Korean vegetables, and he has a connection from L.A. who wants to buy his goods. The farm has no well, and Jacob will not pay to have one built — but he finds a place to create his own water source. Monica is having trouble dealing with work and also raising the kids. She Jacob and Monica agree to get her mother, named Soon-ja (played by Youn Yuh-jung), over from Korea to live with them.

 

Soon-ja is feisty grandma, and she loves her grandkids. Anne is OK with it, but David is not that happy. The eight-year-old will need to share his bedroom with Soon-ja. David is slowly getting used to her, and she has some pretty unique ideas. David and Soon-ja start to bond over watching wrestling, playing a Korean card game, drinking Mountain Dew, and especially going down to the creek. Soon-ja says the creek shoreline is a perfect place to plant minari. It is a small plant that she says is used for countless things, including medications.

 

Jacob is working so hard, first all day with Monica at the chicken farm. Than after that, he and Paul work until very late tending the crops. They start to lose the water supply, because his well was not good enough. Jacob tries to divert his house water supply to his crops. Monica is not felling too good about any of this. She is talking about leaving Jacob alone on the farm while she goes back to someplace civilized. Soon-ja has a stroke and has limited movement. Jacob’s produce buyer backs out at the last minute, and forces him to look elsewhere. So many things happen that culminate in a very dangerous situation for Jacob and Monica and ruins all of Jacob’s work…

 

“Minari” is a very personal story for writer and director Lee Isaac Chung. It is a semi-autobiographical story based on many things in his life. This tender look at immigrant struggles and how a family has issues but stays together is a universal story. The fact that this family has roots in Korea just gives it a fresh twist to the tale. It is a labor of love from all people involved in this movie. The result is a very moving look at this unusual situation, one that actually happened to Lee Isaac Chung. He has made a wonderful glimpse into his childhood.

 

Some other great movies done by Korean directors are getting quite a lot of notice as of late. Of course, there is Bong Joon-ho creating “Parasite”. But also Hirokazu Kore-eda (“Shoplifters”) and even  Yeon Sang-ho  (“Train to Busan”). Each of these directors brings a new dimension to each movie, in part based on the Korean culture. Lee Isaac Chung is now going to be mentioned with respect and admiration in presenting a unique take on the Korean immersion into American culture. Especially when the Deep South of American is the point of reference.

 

Yes, “Minari” is not an action-filled adventure or a twisty reveal of class warfare, but this slowly-paced movie is a very interesting way to show the real lives of Korean immigrants.

 

 

In select theaters February 12th and On Demand February 26th

 

Virtual Cinema Tickets are also now on sale at the A24 Virtual Screening Room

 

In conjunction with their theater partners, A24 has launched a virtual cinema platform to supplement Minari’s limited theatrical release on February 12.

 

The A24 Screening Room will host two weeks of Minari virtual screenings as we work together to bring Lee Isaac Chung’s beloved film to the audiences who want to see it most.

 

Minari

Written and Directed by: Lee Isaac Chung
Starring: Steven Yeun, Han Ye-ri, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho, Youn Yuh-jung, Will Patton
Music by: Emile Mosseri
Cinematography: Lachlan Milne
Edited by: Harry Yoon
Distributed by: A24
Release date: February 12, 2021
Length: 115 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some thematic elements and a rude gesture
Genre: Drama

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Rating

tmc.io contributor: JMcNaughton

Well, now - COVID changes everything... But in my dreams:

I think movies need to be shared and enjoyed by as many people as possible! Going to a movie theater is a group experience, even if you go in there alone. When the lights go dark and movie begins, you can participate in a special kind of magic. You can be entertained, or enlightened. But you are never bored. Or at least, let's hope not. Try reading the reviews first.. maybe that will help!

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