In Theatres: 
Feb 12, 2021
Running Time: 
115 minutes

To most people the American Dream is just that; a dream. Even if you have all the right ideas and do all the right things, there’s no guarantee that a person will reach said dream. Minari follows one Korean family’s drive and struggles as they attempt to navigate achieving their own American Dream and all of the ups and downs that they face in the process. It’s a heartwarming and heartbreaking film that’s propelled by spectacular performances from all of the cast with not a single moment wasted. 


Jacob Yi (Steven Yeun) decides to leave his job sexing baby chickens in California and move his family to rural Arkansas where he has bought a plot of land and plans to grow Korean vegetables and sell them to local restaurants. It’s an ambitious idea but Jacob has every belief that things will work out. His wife Monica (Han Ye-ri), however, has more realistic expectations and while she loves and believes in her husband, his dedication to his work over his family puts a strain on their relationship so much so that she brings in her mother Soon-ja (Youn Yuh-jung) to help look after their two children, David (Alan Kim) and Anne (Noel Kate Cho). Despite all of the hardships, Jacob is determined to turn his barren plot of land into his American Dream.


Jacob’s struggles and determination in Minari is something everyone can connect with on some level. We all have hopes and dreams. It’s this basic and universal element that the film centers around, and it’s what immediately draws you into the Yi family.


Steven Yeun is perfect as the father at the head of the family. He wants what is best for his family and will do whatever it takes to make his dream a reality. At the same time, his stubbornness gets him into plenty of trouble at well. And yet there’s never any doubt that you want to see Jacob and his family succeed. Matching Yeun’s performance every step of the way is Han Ye-ri. She is the rock of the film and the heart of everything that happens; she’s the one to watch for how to react. When things are good, her elation is what drives the film’s happiness. On the flipside, when things go bad you can see the pain and struggle in her face and you feel it down to your core.


There’s also a surprising amount of humor involved as well, mostly due to David’s reluctant relationship with his grandmother, who doesn’t behave like a normal grandmother and smokes, gambles, and curses. Well, in our eyes she may be normal, but young David expects the stereotypical cake cooking grandma, which she is most definitely not. Even though there is conflict between them at times, there is still an abundance of love that flows through every moment. That is what Minari is all about.


Minari isn’t so much about the end result of the American Dream. It’s not about the house or the fence or the money but more about the process and the hardships that come with it. Minari is about family. Minari is one of the best films of the year and delivers some of the best performances. It connects with you on a deeper level, and like the minari plant itself, takes root and doesn’t let go.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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