I immigrated to the United State with my mom and dad in 1984 so I cannot help but feel a certain affinity for Lee Isaac Chung’s ‘Minari,’ an immigrant story of sorts set around the same era. In the film, a Korean family moves to Arkansas from California. But you need not have that same back stpry to appreciate the film – anyone can relate and feel for the characters in this wonderful film. This is one of my favorite films of 2020, a healing tonic to everything we’ve gone through the past year. It’s a film that aches and soothes at the same time.
And it is driven by wonderful performances. Steven Yeun is magnificent as Jacob, the father who has a classic American dream – he wants to succeed in something and wants his kid to witness it. And Yeri Han as Monica gives a quiet and gorgeous performance as his wife – who goes along for the ride and sees what it does for her family. A lesser actress could have easily given a shrill performance in the same role.
The film is named after a Korean herb that stubbornly grows anywhere – it’s obviously a metaphor for the family. There is a persistence in the American dream experience, and this film tells an effective variance of that. story. Our stories all have the same framework, but wonderful storytellers infuse them with specific that make each one unique. This film is exceptional in telling.