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February 26, 2021

An essential portrait of a family in ‘Minari'

AP Film Writer

“Minari ” could not be more personal. Filmmaker Lee Isaac Chung based the film on his own childhood in the 1980s, when his Korean American parents moved to Arkansas to start a farm. And it's the specificity of this delicate tale that makes it so universal and so great.

Only a rare and special kind of film has you fully invested from the first minute, and “Minari” makes you fall in love with the Yi family immediately. Steven Yeun is the father, Jacob, who has moved his wife, Monica (Han Ye-ri), their daughter, Anne (Noel Kate Cho), and son, David (Alan Kim), to Arkansas with the promise of a new start. How funny it is to imagine a time not so long ago when it was possible to not know what the house your husband has purchased looks like, but Monica's face turns subtly to stone when they pull into their vast lot to find a trailer home on concrete blocks. Inside, it's even bleaker. But the kids don't seem to mind. They think it's cool that their home has wheels and take off running through the massive yard.

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