Review: Minari (Sundance 2020)

Title: Minari
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Lee Isaac Chung
Starring: Steven Yeun, Han Yeri, Yuh Jung Youn
Runtime: 1 hr 55 mins

What It Is: Jacob (Yuen) is an immigrant from South Korea who’s just moved from California to Arkansas in order to live his dream of creating a garden of Korean vegetables all his own. As he takes out loans and begins to make it happen his wife Monica (Yeri) begins to miss their life in California. To alleviate this they invite Monica’s mother Soonja (Jung Youn) to stay with them. Perhaps this is the missing ingredient to help the family realize the American Dream.

What We Think: This is a tender and loving portrait of the immigrant’s tale. Steven Yeun is incredible in this. As the patriarch of the family, he is the heart of this story and does an amazing job of making us feel everything. Young Alan Kim, who portrays the son David is impressive for a child his age. It’s equal parts funny and touching. This is the American dream. It isn’t easy and it won’t happen overnight but there’s a satisfaction to it. Everything about this film just hit on all levels. Acting, writing, and direction are all top-notch and the elements coalesce beautifully.

Our Grade: A-, This is a film we’re probably going to be talking about this time next year. It’ll be an awards darling much like The Farewell from last years festival. The obvious ties between the two have nothing to do with that recommendation. Only insofar as both are about the Asian-American experience. Regardless of that this is a stunning film one that may leave you crying in your seat and as emotional as it gets. No matter your history you see yourself, your family in the characters here. Phenomenally done indeed!

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