Thursday 11 February 2021

Minari (Movie Review)

In my quest for complete Oscars readiness, I finally managed to see Minari, one of the last remaining movies for me to watch before the big ceremony in April. The film has been generating a lot of awards season buzz, not to mention some outcry after it was relegated to the foreign language category of the forthcoming Golden Globes Awards. So, of course, I just had to see what all the noise was about. What follows are my unbiased thoughts about the film.

Set in the 1980s, the movie tells the story of a family of Koreans trying to make a place for themselves in rural Arkansas. The patriarch, Jacob (Steven Yeun), has just bought the acres of land they now call home, where he intends to start a farm, much to the displeasure of his wife, Monica (Han Ye-ri). Her objection mainly stems from their new home's distance to the newest hospital, which is a major concern as they have a 5-year-old son with a heart condition to consider.

But the family slowly settles into their new life on the farm, with both Jacob and Monica taking up jobs at a nearby chicken hatchery. To help with the kids while they are away, Jacob arranges to have Monica's mum (Youn Yuh-jung) come over from Korea to live with them. Despite that, Monica becomes increasingly concerned as Jacob seems to be investing all their money into the farm, rather than the core needs of the family. And with things on the farm failing to go according to plan, Jacob soon finds himself having to decide which was most important to him.

To answer the question I know you've been asking yourself since the start of this review: Yes, Minari is worthy of every bit of praise it has gotten since its debut at the Sundance Film Festival one year ago. But even more than that, it is a film worth experiencing. The story is relatable in a way you don't often find in smaller-scale dramas, with its focus on each member of the Yi family, and their day-to-day struggles in the less-than-ideal, new environment they find themselves in.

Because of this, the film is several things at several points during its runtime: it is a family drama, a comedy, a cautionary tale, and a coming-of-age story. And that all those aspects of the film manage to stay rolled into one cohesive whole is testament to the writing and direction of Lee Isaac Chung. The film also boasts some truly memorable performances, from Steven Yeun as Jacob (who has definitely come a long way since his stint as Glen on The Walking Dead), to Will Patton, who plays a farm hand and was responsible for most of the film's comic relief.

Minari is ultimately a movie about doing whatever it takes to succeed. The film paints a beautiful portrait of the life of hardship many foreigners often face in their pursuit of the American dream. It is currently the frontrunner to win Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes in my opinion, and I can also see it managing to score a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars, amongst other nominations.


  1. I've read so many good things about this film! Can't wait to see how it does in award season. I watched Parasite recently (spoiler, it's one of my queued reviews to go live just before the Oscars)... South Korean cinema is on the rise!
    - Ed (wizzardSS Reviews)

    1. Same here. And nice. Parasite was my favorite film back in 2019. Looking forward to reading your review.