Updated: Apr 23
I haven't been the only one drawn towards Korean movies in recent years. Audiences have swarmed to the biting humour and cultural variation of these titles.There's a recurring vision of stillness and overload of beauty from these film makers that's been a breathe of fresh air against dramatic western titles. Watching Bong Joon-ho's rise to fame, American film director Lee Isaac Chung has been following side by side, first with his debut feature Munyurangabo (2007), and more recently his semi biographical title 'Minari' (2021). Being a front row supporter of a heart warming tale, I was sucked instantly into the challenges faced for this Korean American family searching for their elusive American dream.
You're thrown into the harsh realities for this married couple within the first image of them parking in the marsh lands of Arkansas. Too often are we shown a distressing situation exaggerated or faked, whereas this narrative cleverly and quietly takes you honestly into their pain. The two children, played by seven year old brother Alan S. Kim and older sister Noel Cho, held the piece up so elegantly. You're laughing from start to finish at their rebellious missions to help build their wealth. The acting from both child stars is overwhelmingly natural and candid; a shocking realisation for most viewers to digest that it's their first feature films.
There's a theme that both this director, and Bong Joon-ho, have planted between the script that makes their films such unforgettable experiences. This blossoms from the outstanding comedic achievements. The one liners from young David to his grandma, causing havoc on the old lady to get rid of her, is the perfect balance against such an emotional rollercoaster for the group. It created a memory for the viewer, a time when understanding the wider world was too difficult, so you crafted entertainment at your fingers tips.
The movie worked incredibly well being set in the 80's, with the warm tones of orange and red across the edits complimented the landscapes, and added to spiritual tradition of Korean culture. Being centred around a family of five living in a trailer, the musical score of strings by Emile Mosseri lovingly connected the simplistic farming scenes.
There's one character which became quite an annoyance to the story, and perhaps his acting created an uncomfortable nerving back story for the piece. Paul (Will Patton) is introduced to the story as an eccentric local man and Korean War veteran. As the story develops, you're left confused by his alter ego, suspecting a scam against the family due to his alarming nature. Perhaps having a more nurturing character, and less creepy demeanor, may have aligned with his beliefs for god and fitted with the narrative.
We all know there hasn't been a young character this adorable since Monsters Inc's 'Boo'. David is by far a stand out contribution to this tragic, but humble, take on the honesty and hardship around labouring work for immigrants across the world. It resonates for all families because of the realness from the director, which you rarely get in many modern day pictures. I'm hopeful to be smiling at another Korean filmmaker picking up one of the golden trophy's at the 2021 awards!
Release date: 9 April 2021 (United Kingdom)
Director: Lee Isaac Chung
Languages: Korean, English