Redefining the American Dream
This week, Minari is finally available to watch online. As a disclaimer, I will also say that it’s very likely to be screened at Showroom Cinema when we are able to reopen, so if you’re particularly patient, you might want to save this one. That said, I have seen it at home and will absolutely be treating myself to a second viewing. It is a film of great depth, and I can only imagine what will unravel on its second watch.
I’ve spoken about Minrari in this blog before, so hopefully, this isn't too repetitive if you’re a regular reader. I will be going into more detail here (no spoilers though!) because it’s widely available now, and I’d hate for it to pass you by; it’s probably one of the best films of the year. The film follows a Korean-American family that moves from California to Arkansas, following a dream to build a farm, live off the land and sell Korean vegetables to the growing Korean-American population. But rural life is a far cry from the comforts of city life that they have grown accustomed to. For the family father, Jacob, the move represents an opportunity to provide for his family and grow something of his own in this unfamiliar land, but his wife Monica has her doubts. Along for the journey are their two children, David and Anne, and to help care for them - much to the childrens’ disdain - their grandmother Soonja. It’s Soonja who plants the titular Minari - an edible plant known for its ability to root down and thrive against the odds in land others would find unforgiving. A poetic metaphor for much of the drama at play here.
The film is loosely based on director Lee Issac-Chung’s own family history and is somehow universally relatable, uniquely specific and culturally rich. A heartfelt representation of the immigrant experience and the American dream that forgoes leaning into tropes of racism and assimilation. Instead, Minari finds its points of tension in the trails of family life - of keeping a marriage afloat and raising happy children, even through the harder times.
Minari is nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture and acting nominations for Steven Yeun, who plays Jacob with incredible sensitivity, and Yuh-Jung Youn, a Korean acting veteran who is wonderful in the role of Soonja. It can be watched online for £9.99 with the opportunity to support your local cinema with 50% of the cost
This article first featured in the Sheffield Telegraph on Thursday 8 April 2021.