I recently watched a beautiful Korean movie named ‘Minari’. I call it beautiful for many reasons – the pictureque scenes from Arkansas, the lovely tale of love, life and human relationships and the impactful message that it gives.
The movie released in 2020. It was written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung. It features Steven Yeun, Han Ye-ri, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho, Youn Yuh-jung, and Will Patton in major roles. The movie has been hailed as semi-autobiographical with much of it drawing on Chung’s own childhood days.
‘Minari’ tells the tale of a family of South Korean immigrants, who decide to move to Arkansas to make a living out of a farm. This family has Jacob, his wife Monica and their son David and daughter Anne, and later they are joined by Monica’s mother Soon-ja. David has a heart ailment due to which his parents do not allow him to run. He is initially not very impressed when his grandmother comes to live with them. According to him, she is different from how a grandmother should be like. However, the initial dislike soon turns into a warm friendship between the two. Even though Monica is not up for it, David’s grandmother encourages him to run and play. She plants Minari (water celery) far away in a patch in the forest and they soon start growing.
Jacob sets up his own farm garden mostly by himself with helo from Paul, and has a good yield out of it. Soon after the well that he had dug up dries and he is forced to buy water. However, the buyer cancels the deal made with Jacob. Jacob and Monica have disagreements over continuing the farm dream. Monica wishes to return to California.
Meanwhile, David’s Soon-ja falls sick and loses her ability to speak. The family visits Oklahoma for David’s heart check-up and also to meet a prospective buyer for the crop. They are overjoyed to learn that David’s health has miraculously recovered. Jacob admits that his farm is however dearer than his family, which lead to more disagreements between the couple.
The grandmother accidentally lights a fire and it spreads to the barn. With the crops almost destroyed by the fire, the family retires to sleep. Soon David and Jacob visit the Minari farm planted by the grandmother and are delighted to see the great yield that lay before them.
‘Minari’ is a simple yet engaging tale. The relationship between the couple and the friendship between the siblings David and Anne, between David and his grandmother, and between Jacob and Paul are shown with so many shades, that is just true-to-life. The characters are extremely relatable too. The message that in life, relationships are above many things, that life surprises us in unexpected ways, and that we may not always have answers for everything, but then life must go on, are so beautifully projected in the movie.
What I liked most about this movie was David’s grandmother played by Youn Yuh-jung. She stands out with her strikingly brilliant performance. The beautiful bitter-sweet relationship between the grandmother and grandson is so admirable. In ‘Minari’, I felt that as the plot progressed, and the characters evolved, I could learn so much in between the unravelling of each scene. From the beginning when the family is seen arriving at Arkansas to the final scene when Jacob and David visit the creek where the Minari grew, it is a journey of a family that discovers itself and life in its true colours.
This movie is in Korean, but there are English subtitles too. It is currently on Amazon Prime Video. Please do watch it sometime, and trust me, ‘Minari’ is worth watching every bit – it stays with you! 🙂