review by Bobby Blakey
Steven Yeun captured the hearts of fans with his great role on The Walking Dead. Since leaving has been taking on some interesting roles with one of my favorites being the crazy film Mayhem. His latest film Mirani heads in a whole different kind of direction from either of those things and co-stars Yeri Han, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho, with Yuh-Jung Youn and Will Patton from director Lee Isaac Chung. Could this film bring the promise of hopes and dreams or will it be a crop that won’t grow?
Minari follows follows a Korean-American family that moves to an Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream. The family home changes completely with the arrival of their sly, foul-mouthed, but incredibly loving grandmother. Amidst the instability and challenges of this new life in the rugged Ozarks.
I knew nothing about this film heading in so was looking forward to seeing what Yuen brought to the table and was not disappointed. This is a real life film that takes on the struggles of this family in the 80s in a unique way. The majority of the film is in Korean giving it a feeling of a foreign feature yet is taking place in the states. This gives it a special feeling of not only seeing their potential culture clash, but also the infusion of a different family dynamic. Interestingly enough it is not that story I thought of this family coming from Korea, but instead California but still bringing the culture of their life with them.
To be clear when I say culture I am not referring to them trying to recreate the Korean lifestyle, but in their sensibilities and thought process on how life and family works. This creates tension just like any other family, but the pride in self and status affects things in a different more interesting way. The entire cast is so good here. Yuen is getting a lot of well-deserved praise for his performance bringing so many layers to his character. He brings the determined pride to the role along with the emotions needed to bring it
home. Yeri Han is great as well bringing the other side of the coin to their relationship of the emotion and frustration that brings their dynamic fully together.
I was in love with Yuh-jung Youn who plays the grandma Soonja. She is funny and unintentionally mean at times bringing some of the most entertaining moments to the film as well as some of the most heartbreaking. Both of the kids in the film are great and the only non-Asian main cast member Will Patton coming in to help show a different side to their dynamic and the connection to what they are trying to deal with in this new life adventure.
In the end this is a beautiful film that is filled with real life and loss in ways that anyone no matter where you are from can relate to. In addition to the film this releases offers up bonus content including deleted scenes, commentary and behind the scenes featurette that takes you behind bringing this film to life. Grab your copy of Minari available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.