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Minari

7/10

Stars: Alan Kim, Yeri Han, Steven Yeun, Noel Kate Cho, Will Patton, Yuh-Jung Youn, Esther Moon, Scott Haze, Darryl Cox, Ben Hall, Jenny Phagan, Eric Starkey

Director: Lee Isaac Chung

In the 1980s, a Korean family emigrates to America and ends up buying a farmland home in Arkansas, which, to the wife's (Han) dismay proves to be little more than a glorified trailer. David (Yeun) is determined to make a go of the acres that surround their new home, and enlists the help of eccentric, Bible-fearing Paul (Patton), from he buys a plough. They also discover a source of water and plant Korean vegetable seeds.

The work however is back-breaking. Meanwhile both David and his wife are forced to work as chicken-sexers to make ends meet. Husband and wife fight, while they worry about their small son's (Kim) hole in the heart, and their 11-year-old daughter (Cho) wonders why they can't move to California. And the vegetables prove tricky to sell...

Grandma (Youn) arrives from Korea, and finds a large pool, which provides some fresh water, and beside which she plants minari, a fast-growing Japanese herb similar to parsley.

Things get a little better, but the worn-out wife is thinking of leaving. And worse, mostly concerning Grandma, is to follow....

This a beautifully shot, tenderly realised labour of love from its Korean-American director, although the pace is measured, and, at a few junctures, it does become a bit of a slog for those without a good store of patience. Still, we do want to know how things turn out, even though there's no easy answer to the family's problems. There are no villains here, only nature - and circumstances - itself.

Like the family's farm, it's a worthwhile endeavour. And it's nice to see veteran Patton back on the screen.

On most major digital platforms

David Quinlan

USA 2020. UK Distributor: Altitude. Colour by FotoKem.
120 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 31 Mar 2021