Minari Film Review: An indicator of hope and life post adversities
Oscar nominated film Minari, directed by Lee Isaac Chung, is the filmmaker’s semi-autobiographical narrative of a Korean family, who are on a quest for newer beginnings in a rustic place in the US. The film, which extends to one hour and thirty five minutes, has also Hollywood actor Brad Pitt as its Executive Producer.
Minari revolves around the family of Jacob, his wife Monica and their children Anne and David, who move from California to Arkansas, hoping to tread the path of happiness and prosperity one day. Their life is fraught with apprehensions and hassles. At the outset, it is visibly clear that Monica is not content with this change, as it has been the only constant in their lives. Being thrust into an altogether different world makes her often intimidated. Her experiences in the country side were the antithesis of what she had envisioned life to be, leaving her searching for more or for a revival of sorts.
Their life from California to Arkansas becomes a continued process of learning and unlearning- of situations and in the larger scheme of things in life. How the family of four derives meaning out of their new-found life makes the rest of the story.
The entry of grandma Soon-Ja, essayed by actress Yooh-Yuh Jung, in the life of little ailing David, and how they forge a strong bond with each other with ease is visual treat for the audiences. Actor Steven Yeun, who plays Jacob, aptly portrays the character’s relentless spirit amid adversities, even as he breathes in frustration. Han Ye-ri as Monica and Noel Kate Cho as Anne seamlessly become part of the viewer’s lives. That said, it is child actor Alan S Kim, who wafts the masterstroke, with his effortless acting and innocence as little David. How his grandma and him convey a larger meaning to their struggles and make the rest of the family push through the labyrinth of their life provides great life lessons.
Minari thus becomes a metaphor and stands for being a great leveller between rich and the poor. In an earlier interview, the director had implied that the vegetable plant, which grows well in its second year, finds its new lease of life “after it’s died and come back”. While ‘Mi’ means water, ‘nari’ means vegetable, which further translates into life, in general.
A special mention goes to Director of Photography Lachlan Milne for the surreal representation of the vastness of Arkansas and the endless possibilities in life.
The American drama won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language film, in addition to being honoured with multiple nominations at the 93rd Academy Awards, Screen Actors Guild Award, among many others. Minari, which was recently out on OTT platforms, instills hope and positivity amid uncertain times.
Cast and Crew
Director: Lee Isaac Chung
Producer: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Christina Oh
Writer: Lee Isaac Chung
Music: Emilie Mosseri
Director of Photography: Lachlan Milne