There is something very beautiful about Minari . Not from how this film looks (even though the cinematography of this film itself is very stunning), but from how Lee Isaac Chung tells his story that always upholds the main meaning of this film, which is about the family and how each member always tries their best for the common interest in a new situation and an unfamiliar location. A family trying to reach the "American Dream" that we hear a lot about.
Like the name of a Korean plant which is used as the title of a film where minari is a tough plant and can grow even on rough ground, Minari tells a simple story about a Korean-American family who recently moved from California to Arkansas because of Jacob Yi (Steven Yeun ) wants to grow Korean herbs and vegetables to sell to merchants in Dallas. "I want my son to see me succeed," he said when asked why he decided to grow crops in Arkansas.
But his wife, Monica Yi (Han Ye-ri) is pessimistic about her husband's plans. She feels that their life in California is enough, with herself and her husband working as sex separators and her move to a remote part of Arkansas risking not only the future of their family but also risking the safety of their youngest child, David Yi (Alan Kim) who has the condition. at its heart and a hospital location far from their new home.
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In my life, I only had to change my place of residence from Jakarta to Bali once (two if you count the college that brought me back to Jakarta) and although my move was not as dramatic as the Yi family, how Lee Isaac Chung described the family managed to make me feel relevant to them. I have never been in the position of Jacob or Monica or David or Anne Yi (Noel Cho), Jacob and Monica's first child, but with them I can also indirectly feel the pain and how hard they are trying to make this all work.
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One of the reasons why each of his characters is successful is how Lee Isaac Chung manages to bring each character to life by giving them their respective vital roles in the story. It is not Jacob who is the main character, it is not David who is the main character, but the four are the main characters who become the foundation and driving force of Minari by each giving their own touch that not only feels intimate but also very strong in it.
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As Jacob, Steven Yeun perfectly plays a father who only wants the best for his family. With his eyes that always look far past his farm, it illustrates how he believes that what he is doing will be successful and make his family happy in the future. Likewise with Han Ye-ri who is amazing as Monica who is the attachment to the family. If Jacob is a character who wants change for the prosperity of his family, it is different from Monica who wants everything to remain the same because he does not want to take a gamble that can harm the future of his family. The two may seem to have different perspectives on life, but they both want what's best for their family.
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What I really appreciate about Minari is how Lee Isaac Chung never strayed from telling his story. Sometimes when I watch a film about someone moving to a place where the majority of the population is of a different race, the film will try to include elements of racism and how the main character gets through the racist behavior that occurs against him. Racism is and will always be an important topic and should always be discussed, but sometimes a film imposes too much on that theme in its story which results in an unsatisfactory viewing experience. In contrast to Minariwho from start to finish has always focused on how hard the Yi family works to blend into the surrounding community, from visiting the church to making friends in it, without adding unnecessary stories or elements and that is what makes this film so sweet.
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Another thing that makes this film so beautiful is how cinematographer Lachlan Milne manages to capture not only the sadness but also the beauty of a family's life through his own lens. There are moments where he takes pictures that are very wide and far away, such as how he shows how the area of land around his house shows their lives that seem small but have a big influence on each of them. There are also moments where the film feels very close to each character which shows the intimacy and warmth of the Yi family which also makes Minari feel very personal, especially since this is a semi-autobiographical film for Lee Isaac Chung who is the writer and director.
In the end, it is a story that is simple and looks minimalistic, about a family who is looking for the "American Dream". But from how they try, how they show emotion, how we are given the opportunity to see the hard work of someone who will pursue dreams for their family, is how Minari is a film that is very heavy in the meaning it carries. It may be a film about a Korean family in America, but it is also a film that I think everyone in the world can understand and feel. A film that wants us to celebrate with the life we already have and encourages us to do our best not only for ourselves but also for our families.
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