Minari, the compromised land

CRITICAL – Chronicle of disillusion, Lee Isaac Chung’s film tells the story of a South Korean family settling in Arkansas. And just touch with the right amount of lyricism.

What an idea. They left California to settle in Arkansas. The father thought of changing his life, transforming the field in which their mobile home rests on concrete blocks into a farm. This Korean family under Reagan will face tornadoes, and not just the one that descends on their makeshift habitat one evening. There will also be storms under the skulls. Lee Isaac Chung has visibly drawn on his memories.

It is surely him, the little boy who tilts his head to the door when the car rolls in the heat, who giggles with his big sister, who wonders what they are going to step foot in. We don’t know exactly what it was like before on the West Coast, but there wasn’t this uncertainty, this tension. The mother falls from a height. The disappointment can be read on his face. She never believed it. Dad is a dreamer. For him, the promised land is at hand. This is not without misunderstandings. The tone rises in the couple. Gorgeous footage shows kids throwing paper planes they’ve written on “Do not quarrel” to their parents yelling at each other. These few images contain all the distress, all the hope, all the incomprehension of the world.

Nature, this traitor

You have to boil the pot. The woman sorts the chicks on a farm. We learn that sexist is a profession and that male chicks do not have good taste. Start over, you speak. Monica looks a little sorry at Jacob driving his tractor, looking for a water point with a dowsing rod, digging a well with the help of the terribly Christian neighbor (on Sundays, he walks on the road carrying on shoulder a heavy wooden cross and performs an exorcism to avoid the fate of the previous owner who ended up committing suicide).

The goal is obvious: to grow exotic vegetables for sale to the local Asian community. The thing is not won. Nature should soften the regrets. This is not always the case. It turns out to be disappointing, traitorous. Chung films her with Malick manners (a cute sin of a bunch of directors now), a touch of lyricism confirmed by the music. The grandmother arrives, with her quirks. It is not a grandmother as the young David wished, who is the victim of bedwetting and a heart murmur. She smells of the old lady, does as she pleases, sows seeds of watercress – the famous minari – at the edge of a stream.

Racism is virtually absent in this chronicle of disillusionment. There is this boyfriend of the kid who asks him why his face is all flattened out, more out of curiosity than out of xenophobia. The two thieves are not long in imitating the approach of the cowboys. At mass, the white pastor welcomes the newcomers with sympathy. Minari, an original cross between Ozu and Take Shelter , touches the black of the target.


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