‘Minari’ Haunted Me by What It Left Out

Michelle No in The New York Times:

Growing up, I never saw my Korean-American parents touch each other. No hugs or kisses, or even pats on the back. It wasn’t the byproduct of a loveless marriage, just the consequences of a life centered on survival — that endless list of unsexy chores. I’ve lived 30 years without acknowledging such biographical details, accepting that the nuances of my life could never make it into mainstream culture.

This year, watching “Minari” challenged that assumption. For the first time, I saw my parents and all their platonic mannerisms projected in 4K clarity. I felt seen. But watching, and relating to, this tender film about a Korean-American family vying for a better life in rural Arkansas, I also felt grief. That’s because “Minari” was not a film about an emotionally supportive family, nor was it about East Asian parents thoughtfully passing on their traditions, or about a wife having as much influence in family decisions as her husband. Just as in my own life, I thought. Noticing these omissions has reminded me of what realities immigrants accept in pursuit of the American dream, and the full, uncomfortable picture of the immigrant experience we rarely see portrayed onscreen.

More here.