June 8, 2023

GFF ’21 Review – Minari (2020)



Glasgow Film Festival never disappoint with their opening gala selections, and Lee Isaac Chung’s ‘Minari’ is no exception.

Set in the 1980’s, Minari tells the story of the Yi’s – a Korean-American family who move from California to start a small farm in Arkansas. Jacob Yi (Steven Yuen) is excited about the prospect of starting a new life with his family growing their own farm, while his wife Monica (Yeri Han) is less than impressed by their new life.

The couple take up work sexing chickens in order to pay for their new land, with Jacob often working the night shifts while spending most time on the farm during the day. In order to alleviate her loneliness, Monica asks her mother, Soon-ja (Youn Yuh-jung), to come over from Korea to keep her company while also helping out with her young grandchildren, David (Alan Kim) and Anne (Noel Kate Cho).

This is where the film gets the most interesting. See, Soon-ja is no regular grandmother – and David likes to reminds her of this often. She is childish, carefree and very eccentric. She doesn’t bake cookies, she wears men’s underwear and she “smells like Korea”. These are all things a grandmother shouldn’t be, according to him. Due to her illness, David believes she will become the cause of more friction between his parents due to the added stress of caring for her. David shows clear displeasure in his grandmother being around, but it is their time together on screen and their growing bond that makes Minari so heartwarming.

There is no doubt in my mind that Minari will be an Oscar contender in many categories. Terrific writing and directing by Chung, the acting is fantastic (Steve Yeun and Youn Yuh-jung kill it), Lachlan Milne’s cinematography makes even the most mundane of scenes captivating and the score by Emile Mosseri is absolutely beautiful.

I was in love with Minari from its opening scenes to its closing scenes. It is an absolute delight and not one to be missed. I can’t wait to see what Lee Isaac Chung brings next with his upcoming live-action adaptation of Makoto Shinkai’s ‘Your Name’.

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