REVIEW: ‘Minari’ is a Heartfelt Story of Family, Worthy of All its Oscar Hype

Josh Ethan Johnson/A24

This past weekend, I watched Minari, a movie about a Korean family who moves from California to Arkansas, in hopes to start a farm. The feature film, based on the life of its director, Lee Isaac Chung, follows the life of Jacob (Steven Yeun) and his wife, Monica (Yeri Han), and their two young kids, Anne (Noel Kate Cho) and David (Alan Kim).

Courtesy of A24

At the start of the movie, the family of four moves into their new house in Arkansas, and starts to discuss and plan how they’re going to grow crops, get water, and move through life in this new community. There are indeed times throughout the story when Jacob and Monica’s relationship is in rough shape. I think this makes sense – when a family is making such big, impactful decisions together, not everyone will be on the same page. That’s also part of how this movie emulates some real-life themes, which is what makes it so worthy of all of its hype during this awards season.

Throughout the process of starting the farm, Jacob works with someone named Paul (Will Patton), who helps the family in maintaining the farm. Steven Yeun – best known for his role as Glenn in The Walking Dead – most definitely proves that he is a great dramatic actor in this movie, especially in certain scenes that Jacob shares with Paul when they encounter obstacles working on the farm. I will not be surprised if Steven Yeun is nominated for best actor for this role.

Melissa Lukenbaugh/A24

Partway through the film, Monica’s elderly mother, Soonja (Yuh-Jung Youn), moves in with the family, at which point the storyline surrounding her relationship with David emerges. When Soonja comes into the picture, it is her first time meeting her grandson, and she’s excited; David is reluctant to form a bond with her, and constantly says that she is not a “real grandmother.” Although, later on, the two of them end up spending more and more time together, and eventually, the relationship becomes positive for both of them. I found this storyline most compelling, as I loved how Soonja never let David’s antics bother her; she loved her grandson, even when he was somewhat distancing himself from her. Additionally, without giving too much away, I will say that Soonja has a large impact on the ending of the movie.

Josh Ethan Johnson/A24

Minari is available to stream in the virtual screening room for the movie, as well as available to rent digitally from wherever you purchase movies.