Minari (2020) Poster


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Lee Isaac Chung is someone to watch
mrjoshuahankins31 March 2020
Most films that score high on my personal rating system include a moment where I'm compelled to pay attention. A moment where I say, "I'm in, let's go". One of the first scenes in Minari is of Jacob telling his young son that a man needs to find his place in the world where he can be useful. This is said as they watch the ashes of young roosters rising from an incinerator at a chicken farm. "I'm in."

Minari told a story I hadn't heard before. This is likely because it was written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung, whose own life was loosely portrayed in David- the young boy who watched the chickens burn with his dad. It's a story about a young Korean family who moves to Arkansas to start over. After a bumpy start, Grandma moves in. I won't say anything more about the plot, as not to spoil its uniqueness. More than most films about the American immigrant experience, this story is not just about the resilience of the immigrant, but the resilience of family. This is shown through its titular image, the Korean herb minari, an herb that is distinctly Korean and is able to thrive wherever it is planted.

It's an immigrant story through and through. I was excited to see that the film was done mostly in Korean, with only maybe 25% in English, further challenging western audiences to explore non-English films. The score, composed by Emile Mosseri (the same guy who composed the heartbreaking score for The Last Black Man in San Fransisco) captured this same theme with skill. The score was incredibly stylized, featuring an unmistakably western and eastern blend of musicality that I had never heard before. The music in Minari was a feature in itself, adding its own feeling to the story that could not be expressed in a screenplay alone. The screenplay, by the way, was a masterpiece that worked seamlessly with the score.

Perhaps my favorite part of the film was that I had no idea where it was going, and that's a good thing. I was able to pick up on key themes of the story, but not once did I find myself waiting for the next checkpoint of a cookie cutter narrative. Nor did I feel lost at any point. Rather, Chung had early on in the film earned my trust as a story teller.

Of all of the performances in the film, the standout was Yuh-Jung Youn who played Soonja the Grandmother. This is certainly the kind of performance I would anticipate being nominated for an Oscar. Hopefully we won't see another snub like we saw with Shuzhen Zhao last year in The Farewell. What made her performance so memorable was that most of her screen time was opposite seven-year-old Alan Kim. Kim was another of the brightest spots in the film. When the movie opened on Kim in the back seat of the car, the audience response was immediate affection. Kim was a natural. Stephen Yeun and Yeri Han also gave outstanding performances, making this one of the strongest cast ensembles I've seen in a very long time.

I hope Minari goes on to receive the critical attention it deserves, after winning the two biggest awards at Sundance. I'll be campaigning for it all the way up to award season next year.
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Good movie, but the end feels empty
seba-ortiz-lira31 March 2021
I like this movie and it's funny to watch, good acting and well developed characters. But when the movie ends, you feel that some things are not resolved. It ends and that's all.
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Minari brings us into the lives of a Korean family living in Arkansas. They live a simple life, but are faced with all the challenges that come with trying to live a simple life. The screenplay and performance of the cast fill this movie with emotion. But it's hardly ever anything grand or amazing. The film reminds us of the importance of our family, hard work, and faith. All this with a great score make it a delightful viewing.
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a real immigrant story
SnoopyStyle1 September 2021
It's 1983. Korean immigrant Yi family moves from California to rural Arkansas where the father dreams of growing Korean vegetables and grab a piece of the American dream. His wife has massive doubts. The couple works hard sexing chicks. Their son has heart problems. The wife's mother arrives to take care of the kids. The family is befriended by religious fanatic Paul. It's a struggle on many fronts.

It's the classic immigrant struggle and it's as compelling as ever. It feels real. It feels personal. It just feels. It's a movie with all the feelings. It's funny, sad, intense, and light-hearted. All the performances are great and they all feel real.
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Good Effort, Average Movie
filmfan4623 March 2021
A Korean family of 4 moving to rural Arkansas to fulfil the wish of the stubborn father to becoming a farmer during the 80's. The film is beautifully made with good acting from most of the actors, young and old. I suppose there's only so much autobiographical story to tell about the farmer father and the struggling mother so the large portion of the film focuses on the two children and their visiting maternal grandmother. A well executed two hour family movie but failed to leave much impression to this viewer.
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carlos37andre25 March 2021
Well, I won't write a bunch, the movie is pretty good. It has a really really slow pace, so that might be a problem to some. The story takes its time, and over all, it's a movie were the cinematography stands out, the image on screen is always impactful in some way.

The acting is great, all of the cast really, even the kids, I think did an awesome job, and they are just immersed in the characters. The story is touching, and you can relate to most of the characters. The grandma and the kid's relationship are probably the one that evolves the most throughout. The kid actually is the heart and soul of the movie, and he manages to emote a lot, even without speaking much.

There isn't much else to say I think, I believe the story has some rhymes withing itself, for sure, that I probably haven't realized because I only saw the movie once.

To sum up, the movie is good, the acting is great, and the cinematography is gorgeous, it just feels a lot longer than it actually is.

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Great film filled with emotions
ndewild1 February 2020
This will be a film talked about for a long time. The story is very powerful portrayed by fantastic acting. I could tell this story was written from the heart and was made with lots of passion. It was very easy to connect with many of the characters.

No major negatives, which means everybody needs to see this film.
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Not Critically Acclaimed for Me
brendan_eager14 February 2021
This movie was a general let down. It wasn't bad by any means, but it certainly wasn't a great movie. I found it to drag on and on. The acting was fine but there just wasn't much of a story. Very slow progression to really result in not much at all throughout the movie.

At the end, like, sure something happened but it just felt cheap and unrelated to the character progression we had seen. I am not with the other reviewers who have rated it 9 or 10, but I'm not going to try to claim this movie was a 1, 2 or 3. In summary it's a very average film that I just didn't find interesting. Probably wouldn't recommend it.
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Very Nice!
boratsgdiyev31 December 2020
Slice of life movie from A24. Very Nice!

Although Korean Immigrant family story, it is universal.

Even in 1980s a small farmer have to struggle make ends meet and no rewards after so much labor. There is a reference in movie of how old owner of farm blew his brains out. Too real in 3rd world countries like India where on average 20000 farmer do same every year

Grandma should be nominated for Oscar. Very Nice.
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Good acting but boring script
louis101129 January 2021
I'd say that I had relatively good expectations for this film. It was a let down. The main reason is because the film was just so boring. I think this is probably because it didn't make me really care for many of the characters in the film. However, I at least cared about Steven Yuen's character's ambitions, which is something I can't say about the other characters. I'd say that the acting was good but not Oscar worthy and the directing was nothing to special. But the boring script is the main reason I didn't enjoy this film like I thought I would've.
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I am Korean and this movie is overrated.
taz10041 March 2021
I guess Korean and Asian movie is a thing now thanks to Bong Joon-Ho and Parasite. This movie isn't anywhere close to the level of Parasite. Just saying this so people would have lower expectation.

The plot itself is something all immigrant can relate. But the actual execution of the movie... I don't know who it's being presented to. It's not American audience as it has very little they can relate and it's subtitled. At least not to mass audience. It's not for Koreans as the acting other than Youn Yeo-Jung are not convincing enough. In fact, Steven Yeon's accent is distinctively 2nd generation Korean. I thought someone of his acting pedigree should've trained harder to learn how the first generation Koreans speak. Hollywood actors do it all the time when they have to be Irish or Scottish or Australian, they train with speech trainer. And then the director can't tell the difference either as he is also 2nd generation Korean. Maybe this is presented to few film aficionados who are willing to read subtitles.

And there's difference between open ended movie and movies that just leaves you hanging. This is the latter.

The movie had potential to be much better. But in the end, falls short of what it could've been.
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Give the Oscar to Youn Yuh-jung!
doublebgirl5 January 2021
Minari is such a heartwarming story. The cast is great, especially Youn Yuh-jung who steals every scene she's in. The cool, funny and smart grandmother I've always wanted to have. I hope her performance would be recognized by the Academy because she is brilliant!
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This is the American dream
helio_lamego4 April 2021
Many stories about the "American dream" are constructed around families from different social backgrounds in big urban areas, so it's very refreshing to see the hard work and the will to survive from a Korean family in the middle of rural America.

Funny, beautiful, impactful, "Minari" is a great story about a man's determination of creating the best possible life in a very difficult time. And the score is *chef's kiss*
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Minimal Minari
simonsilvacreative20 March 2021
For those of us that have come to this country in search of the "American Dream" while working illegal 12 or 15 hour days in the freezing cold or the scorching heat, Minari translates as a "so what" kind of a movie.

Before you start throwing burnt egg plants and tomates, let me explain.

As a movie fanatic and as a former migrant worker I have to take into account my personal experiences as well as past movies that have in more impactful ways have told a more convincing story of struggle and hope is accomplishing the American Dream.

The one obvious movie that comes to mind is the 1984 movie El Norte by writer and director Gregory Nava. (We'll get back to this reference at the end of my review)

While I'm thrilled to see a movie like Minari receiving substantial attention from critics and the academy award nominations, I believe political correctness is driving most of this movie's hype.

The reason I'm sending this out there is the overwhelming shallow and disconnected story telling in Minari that failed to draw me in and convince me that the family's situation was unique and telling of golden nuggets of unspoken experiences. The closest the content comes to delivering anything remotely original and wise is the grandmother telling David not to throw rocks at the snake because it's better to see and know where scary things are instead of them hiding.

This story needed some raw, dirty ugliness for it to grow into something believable and worthy of my empathy.

It consistently failed to draw me into their world of struggle. A lot of this failure came from giving the viewer an extremely sterile existence: it was predictable, fragmented and slow.

I wanted this movie to drag me through fields of pain, struggle and a dissection of cultural nuances. Instead the movie left me regretting the $19.99 rental and 1:56 minutes of non productive time.

If you're looking for a better version of the struggle to reach the American Dream, watch El Norte and get ready for a life changing experience.
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Don't get the hype.
sussman-9234331 March 2021
I found this movie so slow moving. Nothing happens, not an interesting plot and not much of an ending. Overall, pretty boring. I read other reviews and I'm shocked that people claim to really like this movie.
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Korean-American immigration drama is personal, touching and heartfelt
bastille-852-73154714 October 2020
This new film from A24 centers around a Korean family that immigrates to Arkansas in the 1980s to start a farm and have a new life. As can be expected from A24, it's excellent. The film largely centers around the immediate family (including their young son) and their grandmother trying to adapt to the cultural changes of both a Western and an agricultural lifestyle. Lee Isaac Chung's direction is very strong, using elegant and lush cinematography of the American heartland and a potent yet calming score.

Chung's characters are likable yet complex and multi-dimensional, attempting to adapt to drastic changes in their life while still using humor and compassion. The grandmother character is especially a standout and may remind viewers of the grandmother in "The Farewell." The screenplay is very well-written, combining raw emotion with a lot of humor and heart. Even simple moments, such as going for walks outside, are paired with didactic yet endearing dialogue that establishes clear relationships and trust between the major characters. You really feel affection and great empathy for these characters in a way that genuinely transcends cultural lines. The screenplay's primary emphasis on the characters and their day-to-day lives rather than a view of the American Dream as a whole makes the story seem remarkably personal and slightly idiosyncratic, in the best way possible. Yet the film still serves as a powerful commentary on how immigrants are impacted by cultural perceptions of American life. One can tell that this was a very personal film for Chung, but it would also be relatable among many different audience groups. Its cultural universality will impact views around the world and endear them to the characters. Its inherent warmth creates genuine emotional power as well. The film could have used some slightly stronger coherence between the events that proceed over the course of the story, but is otherwise extremely well-made. As a poignant yet original tribute to the immigrant experience that can simultaneously charm and inform viewers, I undoubtedly and highly recommend this film. 9/10
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briangkwon13 October 2020
Bruh, I am speechless... This was phenomenal film experience. This introduced me to Lee Isaac Chung's brilliance and ingenuity in filmmaking as well as his approach at conveying nuanced themes of family and acclimation through his marvelous direction and powerful screenplay that Chung wrote to keep the audience emotionally engaged.

This remarkably unique story about a Korean family who embark on a new life in the countryside of Arkansas and start a farm while combating financial struggles and managing family differences plays itself out impeccably, bolstered by the breathtaking performances of Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Alan Kim - he was so adorable, and Youn Yuh-jung, who is pretty much like Korean Meryl Streep. By the end, it becomes clear why the term Minari, which are water plants that grow mainly in East Asia countries including South Korea, is perfect for the title. There was absolutely nothing negative about this film, which means you should develop an interest in seeing this.

This probably won't leave my head easily as it was an emotional and beautiful Korean-American story that truly resonates with you. I really look forward to rewatching this future. I truly hope this becomes the second Korean film after Parasite to get nominated in major award categories, especially Best Picture.

Thank you for reading this and have a nice day :)
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ddmillet-221 February 2021
Halfway through the movie I realized it could end at any time and it would make no difference to the movie or the audience.

When the movie did end the audience look at each and said, "I guess it's over." And we left the theater.
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The Future of Cinema
syldt126 March 2021
I humbly think there's something seriously wrong with the so called film critics and with the film industry in general. Minari is, by no means, a bad movie and it's certainly not an awesome one, either. It's there in the limbo of just bland, boring, hackneyed and cheesy beyond repair movies. In my 50+ years, I have watched almost every thing movies: I like almost every genre, I can sit through the slowest paced movie, I can watch mindless superhero movies. As long as the movie offers me something: a clever plot, an intelligent story, an unforseen twist, an original and creative storytelling, cool visuals, interesting characters, it makes me cry like a baby or laugh like a mad hatter. .. For me, Minari has none of the above. I'm sure that there are plenty of inmigrant stories worth of being told, but not this one. Don't be fooled by the critics and reviews that will tell you that if you do not enjoy this snorefest, it's because you are not "getting it", you're not smart enough or you have no idea what good filmmaking is. Masterpiece? Slice of life? Realistic? "Roma" is all this things, and then some. Oscar worthy? Not even close. I didn´t love "Sound of Metal" or "Mank", but those two are good movies (especially the latter). I hope that the future of filmmaking will be focused in entertain and move and amaze it's audience, and not (exclusively) in meeting political agendas and correctedness. If that is the case, I'll stick to rewatching old classics.
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Not Inspiring and a Disappointment
The_Real_Review10 February 2021
A muddling movie with great potential that falls flat. Will Patton and Steven Yeun give great performances but they cannot save a plot that just drags along with no payoff. Unfortunately the movie focuses too much on the son that they want you to feel bad for because he has a heart condition but such pitty stories are tired and worn out and I just wanted those scenes to pass. The father Jacob's story had the potential to be inspiring and should have been the focus, instead they chose the childish grandmother and his abnoxious and disrespectful son. The reviews here are highly skewed towards those who see a familiarity in their own Korean families but family stories do not always make a good movie. Since I am not Korean I feel more objective in saying this was a disappointment all around and I would not watch it again. I hate moves that go from smart to dumb to depressing and then end. My rating is for the acting of the two main male characters only.
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Encouraging and engaging
zsammy-1167512 October 2020
Minari offers an encouraging and engaging view of the immigrant experience while also recognising the hardships that go alongside. Chung's naunced portrait of Family figuring out their place in the world is both small snd somehow rather grand, after it continues to win over the remaining crowds here, it'll soon be winning you over as Well.
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Nominated for 6 Oscars????
tamieanthasj12 April 2021
I'm from Thailand, and too moving to another country in mid 80s to start a new life, so I thought I could relate somewhat to this film and excited to watch it. 10 minutes into the movie expecting something to happen, 20 minutes past, still waiting, 30 minutes, 40 minutes past, still nothing much happens. I'm really, really bored at this point and can no longer sit through it, didn't bother to find out what happens at the end. What an uninspiring film. What with the high score ratings?
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Beautiful and Poignant
SleepingMorpheus9 January 2021
This movie once again proves that A24 is the most consistent studio in making great movies in Hollywood. Minari shows all ranges of emotion and one of the few films where kids act like kids, have a family that feels authentic, especially the grandma, superbly played by Youn Yuh-jung. It further depicts how the western way of living affects people who are not born in it. It's easily one of the best movies from 2020.
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Slow boring and barely watchable
joscon-1661612 February 2021
I'm shocked by the love this movie is receiving. We kept wanting to turn it off but kept hoping it would get better, it didnt. The only highlights here are grandma and Mr. Religious helper guy, everyone else is simply forgettable. I feel like this is going to be a hit at the awards show without any of the depth, acting or storytelling that movies like Parasite had. Bleh.
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What an awful ending 5/10
njpeyton8 March 2021
Interesting Film, good acting, nice pace, possibly a good story - but we never find out due to THAT ENDING!
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