Lee Isaac Chung
Starring Steven Yeun, Han Yeri, Youn Yuh-jung, Will Patton, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho
It seems obvious to say that the best way to improve representation in Western cinema is to change the people who are telling the stories. With Minari, we have a film that can truly show what is possible by bringing new stories to an audience used to their popcorn flicks.
On the face of things this is a simple tale of a family who move to Arkansas to start a new life on a farm after years of saving and scrimping. Things go from difficult to taxing when the mother in- law/grandmother moves in and causes more than her fair share of mischief. It’s best not to say too much more though as the pure joy of this movie is to enjoy the moments as they unfold in what has to be one of the most watchable ambles in years.
Part-comedy, part-drama, Minari is a semi-autobiographical movie from the Director and Writer, Lee Isaac Chung and was due to be his last outing; but not anymore. The writing and the visuals are hugely accomplished with love and precision pouring out of every frame. The ease in which the story is told is probably owed to the intimacy in which Chung knows not only the subject matter, but the culture too. However, there is a looming cloud over proceedings which seems a conscious decision by Chung; so although it’s a beautiful film to behold, there is a constant sense of impending doom.
In terms of the actors, all involved are fantastic. Alan Kim is equal parts charming and annoying as the little boy David while the parents, Jacob (Steven Yeun) and Monica (Han Yeri) wear their old lives on their sleeves and are thoroughly believable. However, it’s the hilarious yet heartbreaking portrayal of the Grandma by Youn Yuh-jung that is the big stand out and carries the heart and humour along with cheeky young David (make sure you watch what you’re drinking folks!)
As we reach the conclusion things do sag ever so slightly as there seems to be a need to conclude, when all the audience wants is to stay in their world. That being said, the last twenty minutes will leave barely a dry eye in the house.
This is a story that’s been waiting to be told for 30 years and it’s joyous to behold. Bring on a new era of American stories told by all who reside there.
Minari available now on PVOD for £9.99