Movie of the Month: “Minari” and the American Dream.

We are one year removed from “Parasite” being the first South Korean film to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards and making history. A24 now brings the tender, poignant, and delightful “Minari” to the table.

“Minari” follows a Korean family that immigrates to Arkansas in the mid-1980s and the hardships that come with that. Simon & Garfunkel’s song, “America,” rings true as the family pursuing the American Dream in a very non-progressive area and time. The Yi family is hit with constant roadblocks and that tests the endurance of their relationships.

As a Korean-American man who spent a year living in Virginia, the film resonated with me from the second the Yi family parked their vehicles on their newly-bought property. They are an hour from any sort of hospital, which proves to be important, and they are a complete fish out-of-water in this country area.

If there was one fault of the film, I wish it further explored some of the racial tension that clearly exists between the Korean family and their surrounding community. There are scenes early on that demonstrate this tension such as the first time the Yi family visit a church. They are on the receiving end of some really snarky looks, but the stigmas and stereotypes seem to go away almost instantly.

The director, Lee Isaac Chung, favored fixating more on exploring this poignant family story. The marriage between Steven Yeung and Han Ye-ri’s characters is rocky at best from the get-go; the kids are torn over taking sides and the youngest child has health problems. Despite the phenomenal performances by Yeun and Han are, Alan Kim is the one who absolutely steals the show.

This is the young actor’s first role, and he beautifully portrays a sweet and adolescent boy who is just beginning to discover his identity while also being held back by health issues. He also struggles to come to terms with his grandmother whom he has never met, played by Youn Yuh-jung, and that relationship was also something that hit home with me. Kim’s performance is adorable and infectious, already putting him on the map. He was recently cast in an upcoming dark comedy alongside “Eighth Grade” star Elsie Fisher.

“Minari” is one of the best films I’ve watched recently. The best part of the film is that you don’t have to be Korean to relate. The film focuses so heavily on America and what it is like to pursue the American Dream, making it relatable for any American in my opinion. It’s acted to perfection, the score will likely be a new addition to your Spotify playlist and the cinematography beautifully captures farm life in rural Arkansas. It is so tender like another recent A24 film, “First Cow,” and is a must-watch for anyone interested in films. “Minari” will be nominated for major awards as it continues to be in the discussion for all of the big awards and for good reason.

“Minari” is currently playing in select theaters and will get a wide digital release February 24.

Sources: A24, Variety

Image Description: Alan Kim (left) leaves audience stunned with his heartwarming performance.

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