Have you watched Minari yet? Friday evening, I went to my sister’s house and fixed Ttokbukki, drank White Claw and watching Minari on Amazon Prime. We decided it was worth $20.00 to not be in a COVID filled theater with less than stellar food. I’m so glad we did. Minari is not for everyone so here is my honest review. Remember it is just my opinion. I did not graduate from a film school and I was not paid. =)
Minari is a tender heartfelt story telling on film. It has a gentle pace which some will consider “too slow”. It is mostly character development and there is nothing dramatic and absolutely no action. So if you are looking for action this movie is definitely not for you, I promise. I am pretty sure most non immigrants will not appreciate it much of the movie unless they met a family like this while growing up. I have already told my husband he will not enjoy watching it LOL
I immigrated in 1975 with my Korean mom and my American step father. I was 9 and the only English I knew was “Hello grandmother and grandfather”, “Thank you” and “Bathroom?” The last one is important in EVERY language, trust me. I saw so much of what we went through in this amazing movie. Lee Isaac Chung must have experienced some of the same fears, puzzlement and pain that I did. Applause to this talented individual.
WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD!
Minari begins as a Korean- American family who moves to bumfuck-Egypt, Arkansas. They have lived in the US previously (in California) so the kids speak perfect English and the parents speak a mix of Korean and English. OMG that was SO my house. In the movie, both parents are Korean and they invite the maternal grandmother to come live with them eventually. SHE was so much like my Mother with her foul mouth and her “I don’t give a shit what you think” attitude that I was glued to every word the actress spoke. Granted, she was way nicer than my mom but to see MY people represented on screen so poignantly was mesmerizing.
Also impressive was how well the family’s resilience was portrayed. South Koreans have been through a lot but the one thing they tried really hard to hold onto in the late 70s and 80s was family. That is all they had. They lived in tiny homes sharing rooms with grandparents and eating simple meals together. We were very proud of our children and the elderly and we tried to lift them up and cheer them on. Even if the jobs they had were menial, by god they will be the best at it. THAT is the Han Gook – Korean – spirit.
The American Dream is something every immigrant from an impoverished or war torn country has yearned for. Sometimes it is so exalted that it is elusive and impossible to attain. My mother was very disappointed when the reality of rural North Carolina hit her in the face. She worked harder in the US and was treated worse than she ever was in South Korea. That really ate away at her.
If you like movies about family strength, love and character development watch this. If you are not sure, wait until it is free. It’s a movie to APPRECIATE not a movie to get excited about. I am so grateful that my daughters will see this movie and get even a hint of what their mama went through. If you are looking for a more entertaining Korean movie, watch Parasite instead.
By the way, Minari is what my mother always called wild celery. She finally learned years later it was more akin to watercress/water dropwort. It is a hollow-stemmed leafy vegetable/herb that will grow near streams. It is a perfect representation of many Korean families who have come to American and grown roots and managed to grow where no one else could. With all the Asian-Hate in the world today it was nice to sit with my sweet sister in the safety of her lovely new home and get a tiny time machine trip back into my childhood.
***BY THE WAY young Alan Kim won the Critic’s Choice Award and his reaction is remarkable. He is adorable. No one cries better than we Koreans. =)
Thanks for reading my writing, everyone!