Minari is a wonderfully shot, exceptionally profound drama film that focuses on the intersection between family and living one’s dream.
After working many years on a production line sexing chickens, Korean-American family-man Jacob (Steven Yuen) sees an opportunity to live out his dream of owning and running a farm. He moves his wife, Monica (Yeri Han), and their two young children to rural Arkansas to see it through. Farm life proves to be difficult and begins to cause a rift between the couple, so Monica enlists the support of her mother, Soonja (Yuh-jung Youn), who soon moves in with them. With his home-life seemingly in order now, Jacob can begin to manage his farm and provide a better future for his family while dealing with the various setbacks that come his way.
Minari is a film about perseverance in the face of adversity and a drive to succeed against the odds. Jacob’s goal is to provide a better life for his family, and he’s willing to sacrifice a lot to achieve it, including his marriage. It’s a fundamental desire that is universally relatable and is explored here by director Lee Isaac Chung with poise and class. The director tackles the themes at a leisurely pace with intermittent insertions of humour and drama to keep the audience engaged. A lot of that engagement also comes from the performances of the film’s principal cast, all of whom are outstanding.
Minari showcases the desire to succeed in difficult circumstances, but it’s a family story at heart. The relationship between family members keeps the movie going and makes for its most compelling aspect. Adjusting to a new town, a new community, and even a new family member puts pressure on them, with each member forced to overcome through compromise and humility to come out stronger on the other side. Kindness and a little bit of mischief from the children get them through hard times while the audience forms a bond with the characters.
Minari works on multiple levels to tell a charming, heartfelt story. It’s a story that resonates despite colour, creed, or background. Lee Isaac Chung has crafted a poetic family drama film with timeless themes that anyone can enjoy at any stage of life, with a beautiful sheen.
Steven Yeun’s red hat was a gift from his mother when he was 17.