Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Alan Kim, Yuh-Jung Youn
An intimate, wrenching portrait of family and assimilation in 1980s America, Minari follows a Korean-American family who move to a tiny Arkansas farm in search of a better life. The fifth film from acclaimed Korean-American filmmaker Lee Isaac Chung (Munyurangabo, Lucky Life, Abigail Harm), directly inspired by his own Arkansas childhood, it won him the Grand Jury Prize and the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award at Sundance this year.
David (a scene-stealing Alan Kim), a seven-year-old with a heart murmur, moves with his parents and sister from California to a mobile home in rural Arkansas. There, his father Jacob (Stephen Yeun) plans to start a farm specialising in Korean vegetables, while his mother Monica (Yeri Han) worries about Jacob’s lofty ambitions and the family finances. Life is complicated further by the arrival of Monica’s mother Soonja (Yuh-Jung Youn) from South Korea, as David has never met her, and she – sly, foul-mouthed – is certainly not the grandmother he had in mind.
Featuring arresting performances from all its cast, Minari covers a tremendous amount of ground as it explores the challenges of the Asian-American immigrant experience – one which despite recent high profile titles, remains vastly underrepresented by Hollywood – alongside the particular challenges of life in the rugged Ozarks. Restrained and richly textured, by turns funny, moving and sharply insightful, it brings its audience deeply into the lives of a family straining to realise their American dream.