Minari

Now, here comes an Oscar-nominated and winning in one category, that of the best supporting actress, which deserves a watch for sure.

Minari is so sweet, so subtle and so quaint. The Koreans have taken the digital world by storm and in effect the world at large, but this movie that highlights the ties of life, the need for ambition, for hard work and for insight so clearly touches upon so many aspects of life. The relationship between the grandmother and the grandson is touching to watch while the house is so frail looking yet stronger as much as needed, the father and his belief in having a better life is heart-wrenching as much as the fire that proverbially destroys it all. But fluttering in the wind, an embodiment of change, twinkling amongst the sunlight, the Minari comes like a ray of hope. Recently I’ve been reading about the concept of Wu Wei, or that of effortless action, a little more lengthily explained, the nature of setting life’s sails to the winds of chi, working with life to get on, get by, to look for what works and aligning oneself to it. That’s exactly what the Grandma does, planting Minari seeds in an apt location such that it needs no manual or in other words forced tending to, no irrigation, no supervision but gently is tended to by nature. By finding a suitable location for dispersing the seeds, Grandma manages to save the say with her action of non-doing. While of course the ideal remains to use chi to the best of one’s ability and for all things, even a brush of using chi or life’s energy to one’s advantage may we’ll be enough.

The visuals of the movie as extremely delightful, the acting great, but the little boy steals the day with his boyish charms and quick-wit. While judging the Grandma for not knowing how to cook or bake cookies and teaching the kids what seems to be Mah-jong, the boy makes his own rapport with the free-spirited woman. She won the Oscar for her acting which I must say was very well deserved. When she bows down to the Minari, returning the gesture that she says the Minari are doing, she makes you smile at her utter alignment with the winds of life. Brushing aside all criticism from the children she even dismisses and smiles when the boy displays his wit when being punished. Far away from her native land, her mannerisms highlight the differences in culture and in being, but gently show us how connected life really is. The Minari leaf known and grown in Korean culture can actually be grown anywhere with similar climatic conditions of course. The fire makes one ache for the family but when life triumphs one truly realises that making much ado about nothing is not a great thing. A lesson in non-doing, a lesson in Wu Wei, a lesson in slow-living, a lesson in not giving up, Minari has a dozen or so tales to tell, if only one is listening.