Minari is one of the best films about family and the American Dream that is always honest about its portrayals of both elements. It's one of the sweetest films with some impressive acting and fantastic visuals. The 1080p HD transfer is glorious looking and the DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix is stellar. There are some amazing bonus features to boot as well. This one comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Stories about families come in all shapes and sizes, from comedies (The Nutty Professor) to animated films (The Mitchells vs The Machines) to emotional dramas (What's Eating Gilbert Grape). But there hasn't been something as sweet, honest, and purely beautiful as Minari, a story that follows a Korean immigrant family who moves from California to rural Arkansas to start a new life on their big plot of land. The brutal truthfulness of marriage, raising kids, and finding the American Dream in 1983 was rough for a lot of people, but Minari tells this coming-of-all-ages story perfectly and with the grace of what it means to be a solid and loyal family unit, sticking by each other through thick and thin times. Minari is a one-of-a-kind film and is simply remarkable.
Director and writer Lee Isaac Chung uses his personal history to tell the story of Minari (Korean parsley) in his somewhat autobiographical film that follows the Yi family dropping their life in California where Jacob (Steven Yeun from The Walking Dead) and his wife Monica (Han Ye-ri from Commitment), along with their two young children David and Anne, set out for the rural pastures of Arkansas, setting up shop with a house on wheels on many acres of farmland where they can start a new life. Jacob is excited and positive about this new transition from city life to the countryside, but Monica is less than thrilled, which causes friction in their relationship. David and Anne must make new friends and while Jacob tends to his new farmland with the help of a friendly, yet eccentric American man named Paul (Will Patton), he also must pay the bills by working in a chicken factory with his wife.
As the chores and daily routines get more tedious, Monica's mother Soon-ja (the incredible Youn Yuh-jung) comes to live with the family, making this a fantastic multi-generational home. The young David is scared of his grandmother at first but warms up to her because she isn't the typical stereotype of a grandmother. She doesn't bake cookies or knits fun sweaters, but instead, teaches her grandkids how to gamble at cards and watches pro-wrestling - two traits that should be universal with every grandmother. The story goes on to tell the ups and downs of family life in this intimate setting, where no matter what setbacks are presented, family and friends are really the only things needed on this plane of existence.
Minari could have gone a different route with racial tensions of the citizens of rural Arkansas not taking kindly to a new Korean family, but that is non-existent here, and it's a breath of fresh air. Those political and social elements are either not there or kept at the lightest pace and in turn, tells a better story that doesn't deviate from that family drama, whether it be something as innocent and fun as young David pulling a prank on his grandmother, or something more serious that requires medical attention. As Jacob struggles and strives to start his vegetable business, he sees that it takes a toll on his family, but through their love and ability to see what truly matters in life, the Yi family succeeds.
The performances in Minari are phenomenal from top to bottom. Yeung's emotional resonance as he sees his marriage falling apart is exquisite as is Han's reactions to her husband's decisions, specifically the sequence where the two of them have it out in the back of a supermarket. It's utterly powerful. The kids are cute, but it's with Youn Yuh-jung, the grandmother who steals the spotlight with every minute of her screen time. Her dynamic personality is instantly infectious and is such a joy to watch on screen. The film is beautifully shot by cinematographer Lachlan Milne (Stranger Things, Hunt For The Wilderpeople), and perfectly captures the beauty and sunshine of rural Arkansas. Minari is one of those films that captures the spirit and honesty of family and has something beautiful to say about it all.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Minari plants its way to Blu-ray from A24 in an impressive-looking 1080p HD transfer along with a Digital copy. The disc is housed in a hard, blue plastic case with a cardboard sleeve featuring the artwork of the film that showcases the family hand in hand walking on their rural land in Arkansas. There is an insert for the digital copy as well.
Minari comes with an impressive 1080p HD transfer in a 2.39:1 aspect ratio which looks amazing. The colors are vibrant and bold with amazing green and yellow farmland that looks fantastic in the golden sun that beams down. This contrasts nicely with the earthy tones inside the house on wheels with its browns and reds in the furniture. The blue skies give way to some beautiful natural colors as well. The only time the film has a colder look is inside the dank chicken factory which showcases some greens and blues very well, but otherwise, it's a bright-looking film with gorgeous yellows and greens surrounding the landscape with the occasional primary colors in the wardrobe. Black levels are deep and inky in. the nighttime sequences without any murky shadows and the skin tones are always natural-looking.
The detail is vivid and sharp as well, with closeups revealing small facial stubble, individual hairs, facial lines and wrinkles, age spots, makeup effects, and more. The textures of the vegetation and grass are amazing as are the wooden fixtures of the barn and inside the house. Wider shots of the farmland are never soft but have some excellent depth as well. There are zero video issues to speak of here as well, making this a top-notch-looking video presentation.
This release comes with a great lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track that utilizes atmospheric sounds perfectly. This is not a big-budget action film with car chases, explosions, or gunshots. Instead, this is a soft-spoken film that takes pride in its fully engulfing soundscape of a rural farm. The sound effects of bugs chirping, trees and grass blowing in the wind, a creek running, and faint sounds of the two kids having fun outside are immersive and joyous. It's all well-balanced with fantastic transitions from speaker to speaker.
Bigger sounds of a raging thunderstorm bring the low end with a nice rumble that never crosses into the rocky territory and the wide arrange of noises inside the chicken factory are quite excellent as well, which little chick-a-dee noises coming from each speaker. The score always adds a pleasant ambiance to the tone and themes of the film and the dialogue is always clear and easy to follow along with the subtitles. This audio presentation is great with its nuanced sound design.
There are only about 16 minutes of extras here, but they are worth the time, along with a wonderful commentary track.
Minari is a magnificent film that inspires the American Dream and promotes a truthful and honest portrayal of what it means to be a family for better or worse. With superb acting and wonderful visuals. Minari is one of the best. The 1080p HD transfer along with the DTS-HD 5.1 audio track is both ultra-satisfying, and the few bonus features are with the time. Highly Recommended!