Trying to fall in love with film again.

Minari is a story about family.

Story

Minari tells the story of the Yi family, a family of South Korean immigrants who move to rural Arkansas with the intention of growing a farm in the 1980s. 

While writing this review, I found out that the story is semi-autobiographical as is it loosely based on the director, Lee Issac Chung's own rural upbringing and while I am not going to say that it is overtly obvious, it feels personal. And like the title states, this story is about family. You as their viewer spend more time with them than on the actual farm and because of that, you learn to love and sympathise with the characters

Acting 

The best word to describe the acting in this movie is realistic, and while it sounds fairly obvious that the performances would be realistic, it really is the best word to use. You look at the actors in this movie and they really do look and act like a family, it's almost as if they aren't acting. And I know I use this word a lot in my reviews, but the performances in this movie are really nuanced.

Steven Yeun's character Jacob is the backbone and the driving force of the story. Without his motivations, we wouldn't have a story here in the first place. What I love the most about this performance is the range that Steven Yuen has. Jacob switches between many different moods and tones in this movie and the shifts between each one are not only believable but it's understood. 

If Steven Yeun is the backbone of the film, then Alan Kim is the emotional core. David plays an integral part in the story. You see the familial relationships through his eyes and even though he is so young, you can tell that he sees so much of the world. He's also having an identity crisis in this movie, and even though it isn't necessarily at the forefront, his performance is a clear and emotional one.

Han Ye-ri's performance is also great. Her character Monica is going through a lot and the frustration that comes from that. It may come across as unlikeable but the more you watch the movie, the more you see why she acts the way she does. There is love and protectiveness there that she's able to silently convey. 

Youn Yuh-jung delivers what is probably my favourite performance in the whole movie and the one that I have seen talked about the most apart from Alan Kim and for good reason. Soon-ja is one of those characters that you like the second they come on screen. Soon-ja moves from South Korea to help take care of her grandchildren and you see her character spend a lof time with them. Her dynamic with Anne and David is fascinating in the way that it unfolds, and without giving away too much, she is one of the coolest movie grandma's.

Writing/Direction

Every aspect of the film is strong but this is where the movie shines. Lee Isaac Chung has crafted a self-contained story that manages to touch on numerous story beats and themes, while never starting away from the central story. 

The central theme of family is prevalent throughout the film. Jacob states multiple times that everything he is doing is for his family. All he wants is for them to be taken care of, almost to the detriment of the rest of his family. That theme of family and its portrayal is also very realistic. There is no doubt that the Yi family love each other but that love wavers and is tested, and seeing them go through their ups and downs 

There is also a dissonance between Soon-Ja and her grandchildren who have grown up in America. Even though I am not an immigrant or the child of one, I can relate to the lack of connection that David shows. Even though they are a family that speaks Korean, David switching to English and complaining about his grandmother who doesn't do what he expects shows the difference in the environment that he is growing up in versus the one his parents grew up in.

Set Design 

The overall visuals are simple and beautiful in its simplicity. Given that this movie centres around a farm, there are a lot of land space shots however the filmmakers try to show different angles each time. Even though you're looking at the same patch on land, you're looking at it from different angles through different lenses. 

Score/Soundtrack 

 It's no secret that I am a self-professed film score nerd. It's one of my favourite things about the movies I watch. Interestingly, this movie has a noticeable lack of score. And I love that about it. Not that the film score is distracting, but without it, you are almost hyperfocused on what you see. Especially in the last 20 minutes. 

Overall Thoughts

Whenever Minari popped up on my timeline, I heard nothing but good things and I can see why. This movie is one of those movies that is beautiful in its simplicity, the story and the way it's told are simple and the characters act and feel like real people. I personally resonated with the last 30  minutes of the film, this is where you really see the characters for who they are and what they mean to each other and the lack of score in the last few scenes really drives it home. 

Me watching this movie is coming off the back of a wave of anti-Asian racism and it is something that I personally cannot stand for. It's disheartening, painful and infuriating to see people constantly be belittled and attacked based on their skin tone and heritage, things that they should be proud of. 

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