Minari: The movie

The screens in Simmons A presented an interesting film last Friday. A story of marital tension, intercultural assimilation and relationship growth, Minari is a heartwarming movie of love in real life. A Korean family settles in rural Arkansas, trying to create a better life for themselves. The jobs they work, the people they meet and the family they treasure are priorities that are constantly in flux. Through it all, the son becomes strong, the daughter is recognized for her responsibility and the parents manage to hold the family together. Even the grandmother provides health and happiness to her family, most prominently by planting minari. The film offers a prime example of immigrants in transition, not completely new to American life but not fully used to it either. As a student at John Brown University, I recognize the movie’s relatively light feel (although maybe not light enough for the family), the Christian undertones of perseverance, hope and love and the happiness of overcoming physical, social and economical problems.

The artistic design of the film is aesthetically splendid. The openness and natural beauty of the family’s land is a pleasant yet sharp contrast to the stifling, pale city buildings. The Rembrandt-like appreciation for the sunlight floods the screen with a simple pleasure most adults stop seeing. Despite the dark themes of marital tension, elderly decline, health limitations and the uncertainty of poverty, the film is a masterpiece of vibrant and happy color.

However, there is much to be said regarding the dark themes. The film is almost entirely spoken in Korean, with English subtitles. While the marital problems are the central element to the movie’s plot, other subplots could have been integrated into the mix of the family’s struggles. Plot-wise, I could have used more.

The showing of the film, however, was a success. Simmons A (and Simmons C) presented the film simultaneously on two separate screens so more people could view the film together. Snacks and sodas were provided for the moviegoers, and the event was led by Ted Song, Korean American engineering professor at JBU. Song was very considerate of the audience’s film and culture questions, graciously providing examples in his own life to clarify Korean culture.

In short, Minari is a good movie, especially considering it was created during the COVID-19 pandemic. Created by and acted in part by Koreans, this film is as authentic as possible in bringing Korean knowledge to Americans and American knowledge to Koreans. While I personally could have used less marital drama and more societal or personal problems, I do not regret attending the event. I would not recommend taking young children to see the film, as the subject material is sprinkled with explicit language and adult content. However, if adults and older children are craving something new to watch, Minari would certainly fit the bill.

Photo courtesy of A24