• Liam McDougal

Minari: Reaching for the American Dream

Updated: Apr 22

“Minari'' is the latest A-24 movie, and it tells the story of a first-generation immigrant Korean family in the 1980’s who have just moved from California to Arkansas. Along the way, their grandmother comes to live with them, the father dreams of starting a successful farm, and everyone’s relationships are tested; the family also deals with the challenges that come with chasing the American dream for any immigrant family that doesn’t speak much English.

This movie, for what it was, was very good. It didn’t try to tell a grand, epic story. It knew that it was telling a slow, tender, and mature story about a family facing challenges, and it succeeded in doing so. One of the main complaints I have about the movie however is the difference between the first and second halves of the movie. Beyond the basic synopsis, the movie mainly follows two story lines: the evolution of the relationship between the son, David, and the grandmother, Soonja, and how the family’s situation as a whole puts strain on the marriage between the father, Jacob, and the mother, Monica. I enjoyed watching the story between Soonja and David significantly more, and the first half of the movie spends its development more so on this story line. I still did enjoy watching the story between Jacob and Monica, it’s just that I enjoyed the other main story more.

From a filmmaking stand point, this movie is breathtaking. It’s one of the most beautiful live action movies I’ve ever seen before, and it doesn’t really rely on fantastic sets for that. Most of the movie takes place on the family’s property, and when it doesn’t it’s only for a short while, usually somewhere in their local town. Instead, the filmmakers relied on great camera work, lighting, and a color palette of bright yellows and greens, which ended up making this movie absolutely gorgeous at times; again, it’s amazing they were able to do so with not a large variety in settings/sets. The score was also absolutely fantastic and even haunting at times. It added to the quiet yet dramatic, emotional, and wondrous atmosphere throughout the movie.

The performances were absolutely incredible. Even the townsfolk who would only be in a scene or two did a really good job. Steven Yeun as Jacob and Youn Yuh-jung as Soonja particularly stood out, along with of course young eight-year-old Alan Kim as David, who recently actually won a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Young Actor for his performance in Minari; he absolutely deserved that award. He gave one of the best child performances I have ever seen.

Minari is a good slow, tender, and realistic look at what both the American Dream is supposed to be, and what happens to people often when they try and chase it. If you don’t mind slow movies or having to read some subtitles, I would recommend checking this one out.

Rating: 3.7 / 5

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