Minari has a delicate touch, it has an ability to express the mood without making it blaringly obvious. This is a family that are all reacting differently to the changes in their lives, capturing the mood surrounding these reactions is something Minari excels at.
Written by Elliot Lines
After moving to Arkansas from California, a Korean family begin a new life in near complete isolation, a huge change from their city lifestyle. Both parents are chicken sexers (separating chickens by sex), but the father Jacob (Steven Yeun) has different ideas for this change of life, he wants to start a farm out in the sticks. Feeling isolated, Monica (Yeri Han) and Jacob decide to bring in the Grandmother (Yuh-jung Youn), straight from Korea, to help with their children Anne (Noel Cho) and David (Alan S. Kim), tensions rise and relationships are tested to the brink.
The dynamic is family, but there are issues. There is a strain put on each one of these members purely by the move they have just made. For each character this move has different implications, and when more family members get introduced the tensions rise even further.
It is clear for all to see that strain that this change has put on Monica and Jacob. It is a decision that seems as though only benefits him, and arguments are a constant between these two. For David and Anne, the wide open space is a breathe of fresh air, but when their Grandmother invades this space, Anne takes the mature approach, being the elder, but David becomes mischievous acting up against an outsider coming into their world.
Funnily enough this serves the film well. Each exchange between the Grandmother and David is comedic in its own right. David's cuteness plays of his actions as almost playful, whereas the Grandmothers Korean ways are so far from the American way that they play for easy laughs.
The mood in each moment is set by the scene. When the parents are fighting, there is a dark overtone. When the kids are happy, bright sunshine seeps through every gap. When the Grandmother is around there is a dim change in the air. Using cinematography in this manner just shows the eye that the director Lee Isaac Chung has, creating mood in such a way requires meticulous and precise moves.
Minari is a relationship study, where that may be the rise or fall, of this not so complicated family. Emotions a plenty throughout, you feel for each character in different ways, understanding their roles and completely come down to their level.