For Family (Film Thoughts: Happy Cleaners)

The Korean-American experience is being celebrated everywhere in ‘Minari,’ but I like Peter Lee and Julian Kim’s ‘Happy Cleaners’ just as much. At first, I thought the film would be full of stereotypes – the tiger mom, the meek dad, bratty kids – but I was proven wrong by how these characters grew, and I think the story here is much more relatable.

The family owns a ry cleaner, and is being run by their parents. The daughter, Hyunny, is a success story of sorts – she finished her schooling and works at the doctor’s office. The other child, the son, is somewhat of a bum – he is more interested in being a chef than finishing college, and to the somewhat shrill mother, that’s a big problem.

Then the family starts to face hurdles, and your heart is torn apart by them. This film tries to make you understand how an Asian family works, how they stay together and never leave each other in times of need, and how they put family above everything else. This could prove to be very tiresome to Western folks, but the film accurately captures the feeling of being ‘stuck’ in how things are done for Asian cultures. I found the film very affecting, and found myself shedding a tear or two – it made me miss my parents who are now both gone.

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