A moving story about what roots us, Minari is a tender account of hope deferred, of the limits of paradise, and of finding the strength to carry on.
The film follows the story of the Yis, a Korean American family who relocated to Arkansas in the Raegan Era to start a new life and pursue their own American dream.
Steven Yeun plays the head of the household, Jacob, who dreams of farming a land of Korean vegetables for the many Korean immigrants in the US yearning for a taste of home.
Together with his wife, Monica (Han Ye-ri), their two kids: elder daughter Anne (Noel Cho) and little son David (Alan Kim), and Monica's mother Soonja (Yuh-Jung Youn), the Yis go through collective moments of pain and triumphant joy as they find their place in a new home.
(from left) Steven Yeun, Alan Kim, Youn Yuh-jung, Yeri Han and Noel Cho. Photograph: BFA/Alamy
Minari presents a vision of growing up that strikes a chord to many immigrant families. During its Sundance Film Festival premiere, Writer-director Lee Isaac Chung quoted the author Willa Cather to explain how he arrived with a story based on his childhood, when his Korean family moved to rural Arkansas.
'Life began for me, when I ceased to admire and began to remember.' Reflecting on this, Chung said, "As an exercise, I devoted an afternoon to writing my memories of childhood. I remembered our family's arrival at a single-wide trailer on an Ozark meadow and my mother's shock at learning that this would be our new home. I recalled the smell of freshly plowed soil and the way the color of it pleased my father. I remembered the creek where I threw rocks at snakes while my grandmother planted a Korean vegetable that grew without effort. With each memory, I saw my life anew, as though the clouds had shifted over a field I had seen every day. After writing 80 memories, I sketched a narrative arc with themes about family, failure and rebirth. That's how I got the idea to write 'Minari'; it began for me, when I ceased to admire and began to remember."
Minari can now be streamed on Amazon Prime and Google Play.