Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Yuh-jung Youn, and Will Patton star in writer-director Lee Isaac Chung’s poignant and semi-autobiographical immigrant family drama. A Korean American family relocates to a small farm in Arkansas in the 1980s – to pursue their own version of the American Dream. The arrival of their irreverent grandmother disrupts the balance they try to maintain between cultural assimilation and autonomy.~Augustine Chay
Minari profoundly shows how it feels to be Asian in America.
Lee Isaac Chung’s Korean-American indie drama Minari (2020) beautifully depicts a Korean family immigrating from South Korea to The United States of America with touching empathy and nuanced realism. Chung’s direction is breathtaking as he gently portrays his own poor childhood, his father’s struggle to start a vegetable farm in Arkansas, his mother’s fears for her family, and his grandmother’s lust for life. I’m grateful that Brad Pitt and Steven Yeun produced Minari, so that I could experience a hopeful representation of Asians coming to America. Minari is a resounding triumph of human perseverance, kindness, patience, and serenity.
Honestly, as someone who identifies as Asian and who came to the States with my family when I was a child, I genuinely related to much of the family’s experience throughout Minari. I felt seen in a way few films have ever spoken to me. I love how endearing Minari’s Yi family of characters are because I can see any audience in America finding common ground to touch grass with the Yi’s on and see life from their perspective. Lee Isaac Chung’s tender direction is a boon to cinema.
Chung’s writing is quietly powerful as he does not go for the obvious woes of moving, but rather thoughtful maneuvers around what it is like to move to the U.S.A. Chung’s story is interesting as he crafts a realistic and grounded tale that still feels contemporary despite being set during Reagan’s Republican reign of disastrous economic policies. The Yi family in Minari experience desperate poverty as they attempt to create a farm from nothing, isolating despair from being away from their family and home country, profound loneliness in moving to a xenophobia countryside area, even nice white Americans who choose to embrace them, kinship from their fellow Koreans in their neighborhood, and of course the casual racism of ignorant Americans who don’t know better.
Minari feels like a universal story of The American Dream of owning land and making your own way in life. Steven Yeun’s phenomenal portrayal of the hard working father Jacob Yi is touching because he embodies that strivance for a better life. What could be more American than Minari? Yeun is excellent because he demonstrates the tirelessly working immigrant father who just wants his own land, property, and business. Jacob’s tale is one of employment, fatherhood, marriage, patience, optimism, and belief. There’s a silent hopelessness about him at times that Yeun convinces you will not bring down Jacob so easily. Steven Yeun could certainly have won Best Actor for Minari at The Academy Awards.
Yeri Han’s lead actress role as the mother Monica Yi is incredibly delicate and moving to me. She absolutely drop dead gorgeous and lovingly brings authentic feelings to Minari. Yeri’s performance as Monica is my favorite aspect to Minari as you sincerely feel her every worry as a mother to a sick son, wife to a struggling farmer, worker trying to get by on not a livable wage, homesick Korean longing for home, mother to a brave young girl taking up duties she shouldn’t have to yet, as well as a daughter desperate for her mother’s presence as she is her only living relative. Han’s singing in the credits is stunning with a soft and warm voice like wind blowing through trees. Yeri Han is a formidable dramatic actress who I hope gets more lead roles after Minari as she is so nuanced and able to convey complex emotions with a single glance or a few choice words. Yeri Han should have won the Best Actress Oscar for Minari in my opinion.
Legendary South Korean actress Yuh-jung Youn is outstanding and entertaining as the grandmother character Soonja. She’s effortlessly hilarious with her constant jabs at Americans and the Yi’s bickering. I loved her casual swearing, sweet maternal consoling to her daughter, and adorable grandmother acting with the little boy. Youn’s playful personality and good spirits are as delightful as any classic acting performance. She is a breath of fresh air and a stroll through a forest to a pleasant creek. I like how she’s the comedy relief and an impactful dramatic presence. The look of helpless fear and disappointment in herself at the end is heartbreaking. Yuh-jung Youn has a fearless persona and resonant gravitas that adds weight to all her words in Minari. I’m glad Yuh-jung Youn won Best Supporting Actress. A well deserved win for a fantastic actress. I hope to see her in more films. I must look up her filmography soon!
Child actor Alan Kim is adorable, funny, and touching as the little boy David Yi. He’s so spirited and natural that you believe his stubborn childishness and childlike wonder alike. I appreciate child actress Noel Kate Cho’s portrayal of Anne. She is so quietly brave, taking her parent’s poverty and arguments to heart, while looking after her younger brother and elderly grandmother when her mother is not around. Will Patton’s spiritual Paul is a fun figure in Minari. Patton gets some laughs as well as a healthy appreciation for his religious moments. But, I most enjoyed his scenes with Yeun as Patton’s Paul is the optimist to Jacob’s pessimist.
Harry Yoon’s editing is sleek with a clean cut for each moment in Minari. You never even notice Minari’s 115 minutes as it feels like 30. Lachlan Milne’s dreamy cinematography gracefully shoots striking wide shots of open fields, lush forests, calm streams, and quiet homes with equal precision and reflection. Minari is one of the best looking pictures I’ve ever seen as close-ups hold to allow the acting performances to breathe, while medium shots are carefully framed to include reactions and expressions necessary for each interaction. Minari could have won Best Cinematography too to be honest.
Lee Yong-ok’s production design looks thoughtfully made for a realistic look for a tiny farm home and Arkansas in the 80’s. Hanrui Wang and Stacy Suvino’s set decoration makes Minari appear to have a lived-in home. W. Haley Ho’s art direction helps the dreamy feel of natural Sunlight and haunting atmosphere whenever something bad could happen. Mike Uguccioni’s visual effects are perfect for the flames and water alike. Emile Mosseri’s score is unreal with an ethereal wonder to it like his compositions are fantastical as well as intimate. His music for David’s last run to Soonja is gripping. Charlotte Golden, Susanna Song, Amy Higdon, and Amanda Gonzalez made all these cute costumes like Park Moung-hui’s pretty make-up. In all, Minari is one of 2020’s finest films.
This is a thoughtful film, moves slowly but has great development of characters, There is a lot to think about after the it ends. I wanted to see more. It ends on a hopeful note and I think every one in this production should have won an award for a well acted drama with humor thrown in from time to time. To watch the antics of the spirited Grandma to the disappointment and worry on the young wife and mother and finally to the determination of the husband to do well and provide for his family. There is a wonderful character played by WIll Patton as the off center neighbor who comes to help on the farm. I recommend this to everyone who just wants a good movie to watch with their kids. No horror, no killing, no bad language (well maybe one or two curse words)
A wonderfully acted film that deserves to be seen by everyone.
This independent film was clearly a labor of love by the director, actors, and crew. The acting is top notch and the story really resonates with the viewer, we have all been or will be one of these characters.
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Excellent movie by the terrific up and coming studio A24. Easily one of my favorite Oscar movies of 2020. Every member of the cast delivers top notch performances and can be hilarious in equal amounts as it is heartfelt
This movie is so good! It was even better the second time as I could appreciate the brilliant performances of each actor, especially Yeri Han (Monica). Yuh Jung Youn was truly deserving of the Academy Award (no luck involved) and I thought it deserved the Oscar for Best Picture.
I preordered the BluRay on Best Buy and I received it on the Saturday prior to the official release date. Thanks, Best Buy!
man this was a tough movie to watch as well. seeing people suffer and go through a tough time to try to achieve the american dream in which we all know its not real. this guy comes with a certain mentality but then ends up finding out the hard way that its not as it seems and he feels like he has failed his wife and his son