Bronze Label

Minari (2020)

8.0/10

A Korean family moves to Arkansas somewhere during the 1980’s, and instead of experiencing the American dream they experience hardship. “Minari” visualizes a realistic story of migration to the U.S, and shows us the trouble one might have to go through when chasing the American dream.

Initially, I was very hesitant to watch “Minari” for the purpose of writing a review because I think that someone with a Korean background can explain way more about the depth, and significance of this film than me. However, that doesn’t mean that I have no valid perspective. That being said, I really appreciated the topic of this movie which is; immigrants that have to face reality instead of believing in the American (capitalist) dream. It is very raw, and as most people who immigrated to the U.S know it is not easy to leave a big part of your family behind. Therefore, I would describe this film as an ode to all the immigrants who built up America. It is the people that do the ‘dirty’ jobs that keep the country running. The hard working parents that sacrifice their chance of happiness in order to provide a better opportunity for their children. How many fathers, and mothers would have had a good job in their home country, but had to do hard physical labor in the U.S? How many dreams have been destroyed by trying to achieve the American dream? However, this is not something new. But it is important for the audience to understand, or at least the willingness to understand, that this film shows the lifestyle of generations of immigrants. You might not like what you see. However, every hardship is filmed in a very raw, but beautiful way. 

The audience does not see what exactly happened in Korea, but it is explained throughout the film via the use of dialogue. Here again, everything is very realistic and original. At no point during this movie did I think that situations were cliché, or predictable. The writer really managed to create great characters, and even all of the minor characters were really well developed. The acting is also very realistic and amazing. I was surprised that even the children were able to carry the entire film with their amazing performance. Additionally, the plot is well structured and makes total sense. So there is absolutely nothing bad that I can say about “Minari”.  

However, I do understand if some people would have preferred a different ending, and a different beginning. With this I mean that it feels like we as the audience are being dropped into the story, and to me this makes perfect sense. I don’t think that it would be possible (timewise)  to create a grand background story before the current first scene. Neither is it possible to create a ‘closed’ ended film because the point of this movie is that the entire process is an ongoing struggle, and not some resolved puzzle which is called “succeeding in the U.S”. Therefore, in my opinion, if you want to have a closed ended film experience then this entire topic is not for you. Moreover, most serious films regarding immigrants tend to be emotional, and very complicated in nature. Therefore, one should not try to expect that you will be given a ‘traditional’ beginning, middle, and end plot structure. It is more about the human experience and not so much about the goal of the protagonists. If you find it difficult to get into this film then I can only advise you to read about immigration to the U.S, and all the different stories related to this topic. Alternatively, you might not like it for other personal reasons, but I really suggest that you should give this movie a chance. 

To conclude, I would like to say that “Minari” does deserve a prequel because the decisions and emotions prior to migration are very complex and interesting. It would be really nice to see this being developed in a prequel. It is true that we already know a little about what happened prior to the migration process, but I am sure that the audience would love to see it in an actual separate film.

Director: Lee Isaac Chung. Writer: Lee Isaac Chung

Cast:
Alan S. KimDavid (as Alan Kim)
Yeri HanMonica
Noel ChoAnne (as Noel Kate Cho)
Steven YeunJacob
Darryl CoxMr. Harlan
Esther MoonMrs. Oh
Ben HallDowsing Dan
Eric StarkeyRandy Boomer
Will PattonPaul
Yuh-Jung YounSoonja (as Yuh-jung Youn)
Jacob M WadeJohnnie (as Jacob Wade)
James CarrollBrother Roy
Jenny PhaganBonnie
Tina ParkerDebbie
Chloe LeeJune

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