Minari: Portrait of a Korean-American Family in Rural Arkansas

In his fifth film, Minari, Lee Isaac Chung, uses his own childhood as point of departure and source of inspiration in telling the autobiographical story of a Korean American family trying to sustain a farm in rural Arkansas.

Produced by A24 and Brad Pitt’s company Plan B, this engaging Korean American coming-of-age tale world-premiered at the Sundance Film Festival back in January.

Alan S Kim and Steven Yeun in Minari. Lee Isaac Chung’s nuanced portrait of a family figuring out their place in the world is both small and somehow rather grand.

Alan S Kim and Steven Yeun in Minari. A24.

Lee Isaac Chung’s nuanced portrait of a family struggling to survive is both particular in its specific locale and time and universal in its broader emotional and existential concerns
Set in the early 1980s, it’s the tale of Korean parents Jacob (Steven Yeun) and Monica (Yeri Han), who have moved their American-born children out of the city into life in rural Arkansas.

Yeun (The Walking Dead) renders another compelling performance, very different from his chilling turn in Burning.

The seven-year-old Kim, a rare natural talent, is mischievous and sweet, carrying a great deal of the story on his small shoulders.

There’s also a strong, mostly comic role for Yuh-Jung Youn as the mischievous grandmother, who delivers most of the film’s biggest laughs.

Minari offers an engaging view of the immigrant experience while not neglecting the inevitable hardships and obstacles.