Minari was the winner of the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture in a Foreign Language and one of the actors, Yuh-Jung You, won several awards for Best Supporting Actress, including the Oscar and a BAFTA. Minari was also nominated for Best Film at the Oscars, unusually as it would normally be slotted into the Best Foreign Language film category. It’s a tender and sweeping story about what roots us. Minari follows a Korean-American family who move to a tiny 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, Minari shows the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home.
Culture clash is the unifying subject here, though not the only one. Lee Isaac Chung, the director, who waited to make this autobiographical drama until he had several acclaimed films under his belt, knows exactly the story that he wants to tell and how he wants to tell it. Monica and Jacob fight over their shared goals as a couple and their ambitions for their children. The tension of assimilation versus independence underscores every exchange, whether it’s intimate and private or connected to the larger community that they are tentatively getting to know.
It’s clear that Jacob has bought into some version of ‘the American dream’ and carries himself like a prototypical mid-20th-century white American farmer, complete with gimme cap, terse speech, breast pocket cigarette pack, and ambling gunfighter walk. Monica seems more torn, and it is obvious from seeing the two of them interact that she comes from a higher social class and is more comfortable in the cities. As the story goes on, we begin to wonder if she regrets having moved to America in the first place. Even though she’s game, it’s a tough road that never seems to get easier.
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Venue: William Loveless Hall