Minari

Nominated for 6 Oscars Including Best Picture & Actor!

"A rare film about assimilation that can be equally cherished by both poles of the American political landscape. And everybody in between." - Irish Times

"Minari is a story of the American Dream. But Chung's brilliance is in how he adds depth and complexity to those foundational ideas - it's in the spaces in between that we find love, loss, hope, and regret." - Independent (UK)

"Writer-director Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari comes with a sense of pedigree: His first film, Munyurangabo, about two Rwandan youth, made a huge splash after debuting at Cannes in 2007. His output has been admittedly spotty since then — an oddball character study here (Abigail Harm), a co-directed documentary there (I Have Seen My Last Born). Yet this semi-autobiographical look at a Korean American family moving to Arkansas in the Eighties feels like an entirely different beast, and something far more personal than Chung’s previous works. It’s a beautiful example of cinema à clef, done with little blustery sentimentality and a surfeit of grace notes — a textbook example of why that-was-the-summer-where-everything-changed movies are less about the tale than how it’s told." 

You think you know where all of this is going — and in a way, you do, given that Minari is definitely one of those films in which the complexities of a first-person past is replayed through the eyes of a child. The parental arguing, the appearance of David’s kindly grandmother (Yuh-Jung Youn) who’s come to stay with them (“She smells like Korea,” the boy complains), the fish-outta-water experience that’s compounded by the family’s immigrant status: We see all of this through our underage hero’s perspective, even as Chung’s wisdom and wistfulness informs this look back at his childhood."

"But Minari has a habit of gently leaning left when you expect things to swerve right, from the casual racism that quickly defuses itself to the way the elderly relative becomes David’s co-conspirator instead of an Old World taskmaster. There’s not a false note in any of the performances, though it’s tempting to single out Kim (he’s an astounding performer with a killer blank-reaction face) and Han, who never lets the mother devolve into the cliché of a long-suffering spouse. (Kudos as well to the great Will Patton, blessing us with a humanistic portrait of the town’s Jesus freak.) Even when the grandmother character threatens to turn into a cute-biddy caricature, the film has a way of pulling things back from the brink of cloying."

"When things take a turn for the tragic, you brace for the worst. And still, Chung presents things in a manner that punctures the melodrama without lessening the moments’ impact. Minari understands exactly how to blend the specific and the universal — that combination of making his story feel like yours. The title, by the way, refers to a plant used in a number of Korean dishes; Grandma brings over seeds from the homeland when she comes to stay with the family. She and David plant them by a creek a short walk from the farm. They can grow virtually anywhere, she tells the boy. And yet the leafy green still retains its native characteristics. Yes, it’s a metaphor. Yes, the film earns the right to use it." - David Fear (Rolling Stone)

 

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