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Film Review: Minari 미나리 (2020) - USA

Andrew Chan Han Ye-ri Lee Isaac Chung Minari Steven Yeun Youn Yuh-jung

Film Review: Minari 미나리 (2020) - USA

Reviewed by Andrew CHAN (Film Critics Circle of Australia)

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There is a lot of beauty and natural touching moments in acclaimed Korean-American director Lee Isaac Chung’s “Minari”. It is as much about an American Dream as it is about human characters, family situations and a personal immigration story told in the softest of lens along with the beautiful country-side. Change is difficult and relationships take a toll as 1980s immigration story takes center stage that remains relevant to so many of us. The focus on tiny details and human interactions and soft touches are what sets this film apart from its genre and making it easily one of the best film of the year.


Steven Yeun plays a serious Korean-American husband and father with bigger dreams of supplying the niche market of Korean vegetables to the Korean community in the city. Yeun is wonderful with an understated performance that provides the audience with both hope and despair. Korean actress Han Ye-ri gives her best performance yet as the wife and mother trying her best to keep her family together against the odds. The subtle moments and fights between Yeun and Han are realistically depicted. This is further aided by veteran Korean actress Youn Yuh-jung who brings natural credibility as the grandma who became essentially central to the crucial emotive moments and touching finale. Youn elevates her work to a level that makes the film a notch or two better as her eyes becomes layered with strong emotions.


All in all, “Minari” is not so much about the American dream or a simple immigration story, but ultimately about what is important to a family and that is staying together against the odds through the ups and downs. Water becomes a prominent theme throughout the film, perhaps suggesting how it can flow with hope as it contrast fire that destroy the dreams and hopes. The irony however, it takes a moment of hard reality before the realisation of the family to understand what truly matters. This is easily one of the 2020’s best film and one that lingers with emotions and heartfelt.


I rated it 9/10


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