In the 1980s, a Korean immigrant family moves to rural Arkansas, hoping to grow produce; after a while they are joined by Monica’s (Han Ye-ri) mother (Youn Yuh-jung), far from a conventional woman. A film that touched the hearts of many Asian-Americans who recognized personal experiences of what it’s like being a stranger and struggling to gain acceptance and success; Lee Isaac Chung made sure every detail rings true. Cast to perfection, including young Alan Kim as the boy who can’t relate to his grandmother’s Korean habits. A quietly effective little drama, and that goes for the music score as well.
2021-U.S. 115 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Christina Oh. Written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung. Music: Emile Mosseri. Cast: Steven Yeun (Jacob Yi), Han Ye-ri (Monica Yi), Alan Kim (David Yi), Noel Kate Cho, Youn Yuh-jung, Will Patton.
Trivia: Co-executive produced by Brad Pitt.
Oscar: Best Supporting Actress (Yuh-jung). Golden Globe: Best Foreign Language Film. BAFTA: Best Supporting Actress (Yuh-jung).
Last word: “[At first] I didn’t tell them that this is our family’s story, but obviously my mom is starting to piece things together. And I think it made my parents even more nervous that I was not coming completely clean to them, that I would not tell them, ‘This is our story.’ So they were super concerned until Thanksgiving of 2019 we had finished the cut and I just decided I have to get this out of the way and finally show them. And I was a nervous wreck. I had no idea what they would think. We watched the film together and slowly I just started to see my mom starting to weep, my sister, my dad. And it just felt like it was such a cathartic experience for all of us.” (Chung, NPR)