'Minari' review: A poignant story of bitter-sweet dreams, hope and family

Written By: Sameeksha Dandriyal WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Apr 16, 2021, 01:24 PM(IST)

Minari Photograph:( Twitter )

Story highlights

Directed by Lee Isaac Chun, 'Minari' is a weed of hope that'll grow on you during these dark, dampened times

It’s 2021. Second-year into the pandemic and now most of us are well-versed with streaming platforms, taking our already shrinking attention spans to abysmal depths. Now, there are films that we save to watch later on a bad day and then there are stories that save us on a bad day, 'Minari' easily belongs to the latter category.

This beautiful story of a first-generation immigrant Korean family is half part gut-wrenching, half-part hilarious and a full part tearjerker.

The impersonal tale of the family holding on to hope, strangely feel universal, more so given the current circumstances.

The story revolves around Jacob (Steven Yeun) and Monica (Han Ye-ri) and their two children - Anne and David, who move to Arkansas because Jacob likes the dirt and is done sexing the chicken. In the hope to build a farm and grow Korean vegetables for the immigrant Korean population, Jacob is walking a thin line in his personal life, where Monica is not too confident in his dreams and only wants David’s health to be a priority.


Enter’s Sonja (Youn Yuh-jung), Monica’s mother - the teether of the storyline in terms of humour and heartbreak. Her relationship with David is the soul of the film, so is her sowing ‘minari’ on a patch of land. 

Directed by  Lee Isaac Chun, the film reflects a lot on the struggles of an immigrant family, hoping for living an ‘American’ dream while staying rooted and fighting a personal relationship, dealing with promise and family.

Amidst the skeleton of struggles lies the spark- 5-year-old David, who is concerned about his grandmother not being a real grandmother and dreams of running even for a minute, all while struggling with a weak heart. Chun, very subtly, also hints at casual racism that the family faces in a church, for ‘looking different.

The film at times feels like breathing. Slow and peaceful. While you can see the world of Jacob and Monica crumbling, you breathe with the visuals and somewhere know that it’ll all be fine.

Perhaps cinematographer Lachlan Milne deserves a mention here for bringing in the 1980s aesthetic into a barren Arkansas land, in the most peaceful manner.

Also, a deserving mention to the film’s music composer Emile Mosseri, for creating an environment with the score, which tells the mood of the character, without letting go of the hopeful tune. It feels like the music is composed from the eyes of David and Sonja - it’s innocent, playful and hopeful.

The title of the film depicts the faith of the family, like minari planted by Sonja grows in abundance away from its native soil, so can this family of five. “Minari grows without much care. It doesn’t discriminate. It’s tasty for the rich. It’s tasty for the poor and it goes with everything” - now replace the minari with hope and there you have the soul of this beautifully told film.

With a world that seems to get darker and darker with every passing day, Minari is exactly the ray of sunshine that asks us to look up for hope, while staying grounded in the grim realities. 

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