Other than knowing that it’s been nominated for a half-dozen Oscars (including Best Picture), I sat down to watch Minari unaware of anything else about it. What I found – to my Bank Holiday Weekend delight – was a lovely, charming film about the American Dream, done with warmth, tenderness and a surprising amount of humour.
It was that latter point that made me warm so much to Minari. It’s a film – about a young Asian-American family who set up a farm in Reagan America – that touches on some heavy issues: culture, family, racism and religion, but it’s done with such an ease that it never feels overcooked.
You get family dramas like this that are a struggle, but with Minari – because of the delicate lightness of its touch – filled with love and, to be frank, top Granny bantz (Yuh-Jung Youn is utterly wonderful as the grandma who plays against type) it makes it a pleasure to watch. No word of a lie, she made me laugh more inside 30 minutes than most mainstream comedies have done in recent years – and the relationship she has with her anxious grandson is like a warm hug full of silly pranks and a very unexpected joke about penises.
It’s not a film for resolutions or necessarily answers. It’s not tied in a neat bow at the end. It’s very much about relationships – a lot of it subtle, but some of it purposefully not (a farm workers character springs to mind) – but tonally Lee Isaac Chung has nailed this one and it deserves all the plaudits it gets.