Minari ★★★★½

I got the call from my Mum last night. Her mother had passed away at the hospital after a short induced coma. This time two years ago I had three grandparents. Today I have zero.

That was my normal for a long time, as my paternal grandfather died in 1997. Only recently did my maternal grandmother die 21 years after him. However, my maternal grandfather died last September from lung cancer, and then Nanna Jackie survived him by only 13 months.

I didn't realize coming into Minari that a significant subplot was the director surrogate's relationship with the grandmother he never knew. But Nanna Jackie was nothing like her. She was, indeed, a "real grandmother". She baked cookies (though mostly cakes where I licked the batter) and rarely swore.

She was a sweet person and very close to my Mum. I admit I'm grateful she didn't linger too much before her looming dementia took her life first. I'm happy I got to see her last Christmas. I would have regretted missing that trip, especially in light of the pandemic. I had planned to go back this June.

There is probably one very key similarity between the grandmother and Nanna Jackie, but as it's veering into spoiler territory, I'll avoid going into anymore details. It hit hard at a potent place in a raw time. Though of course, I was in the hands of the film festival's limited viewing window.

Fortunately, Minari is medicine. The film completely lived to the hype. It's a wonderful, wonderful, deeply personal, utterly serene, and metaphysical portrait of America. Freedom, faith, superstition, forces of nature, ambition, and familial bonds collide into the costs of intoxicating capitalist dreams.

It's elegantly crafted, at once organic and cinematic. The gentle sense of humour ensures that it never takes itself too seriously and allows the weight of its poetic images and juxtapositions to guide the narrative. This is truly one of 2020's most invaluable and essential pieces of art.

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