By Adam Ray Palmer
First up on our 2021 Glasgow Film Festival journey is the already critically acclaimed Minari, being nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Minari is brought to the festival by writer and director Lee Isaac Chung and stars the brilliant Steven Yeun, Alan Kim and Han Ye-ri.
A Korean American family decide to move to an Arkansas farm in search of its own American dream. With fresh countryside challenges in a new life at the mercy of nature, the family discover by hook or by crook that their indisputable resilience as a unit undeniably makes their family stronger and their farm even more of a home.
Minari is a heartfelt immigrant story that focuses on the love and strife of a family who settle in the country to make a living. The Korean American family is headed by a father, Jacob (Steven Yeun) and mother Monica (Yeri Han), who came from Korea in the 1980s to spend time in California working as chicken sexers, separating baby chicks by gender. Wanting a quieter life, they set up shop in a small Arkansas town with their two American-born children, a mature and thoughtful girl named Anne (Noel Kate Cho) and a six-year-old inquisitive boy named David (newcomer Alan Kim).
Named one of the ten best films of 2020 by the American Film Institute; Minari is very easy to fall in love with. The two-hour poignant movie is anchored by subtle yet remarkable performances from an ensemble cast. Steven Yeun will steal a lot of the limelight alongside his onscreen wife Yeri Han; playing a battling couple as their marriage is constantly on the rocks as they clash over their newly ‘idyllic’ life.
However, it is the real life seven-year-old Alan Kim who plays David who will live long in my memory. What a breakout performance for such a young actor with confidence and assurance in abundance. With being youthful in real life, the naivety to all the worldly problems around him is the essence of this movie. Minari works so well because a charming story is told from David’s point of view. There are complications all over the place but he just wants a sweet childhood and to play around.
Ultimately, Minari is an excellent addition to the family drama genre. It’s an unassuming film built on a sweet and melancholy look at the immigrant experience. Lee Isaac Chung’s memoir is worthy of its awards recognition, but perhaps deserves even more praise in my opinion. There’s so much to take from Minari even if you don’t share the same Korean-American experiences as we all long for the perfect family outfit; and Minari captures that dream perfectly.
Cineroom’s rating: 4 stars
Minari will be released on 19th March 2021 – certificate 12