Matthew at the Movies: The Father (2020) and Minari (2020)

Before Oscar night, I’m going to finish off the rest of the Best Picture nominees, then I’ll review them here. I know that I haven’t reviewed some of them, so I might do those in the future.

First up, The Father:

The film, directed by Florian Zeller, co-written by Zeller and Christopher Hampton, based on Zeller’s play, follows Anthony (Anthony Hopkins), an old man refusing any and all assistance from his daughter (Olivia Coleman) and others. As he tries to make sense of his changing surroundings and circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.

Last year, Hopkins was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Two Popes. I don’t think he deserved that nomination, however, this year, he’s nominated for Best Actor, which is deservedly so.

Hopkins carries this movie, he’s the heart and soul of it. You go through the entire film in his eyes. I don’t even think there’s a single scene that he’s not in. When Anthony’s world alters, whether literally or figuratively, it’s Hopkins’s performance that truly sells it. The other performances, editing, and production design really help sell the “mind-bending” that’s going on with Anthony.

To some, this film, like Sound of Metal (2019), could be seen as a horror movie. A horror movie about the erosion of the mind as it grows older. It’s about starting to forget things that just happened. It’s about not recognizing your own family members.

I recommend The Father, it’s the sleeper hit of 2021. I didn’t expect that much from it, but I got so much more when I finally watched it. The great performances will drag you in, but its themes and ideas will keep you there. (4/5)

Next up, Minari:

Written and directed by Lee Issac Chung, based on his own life, the film follows a South Korean family who immigrate to the rural United States during the 1980s and try to make it as farmers.

The film, much like John Ford’s film, The Grapes of Wrath, based on a Steinbeck novel, tells the story of a family trying to live their American Dream in a world foreign to them. If you’re somewhat familiar with films like these, you have a general idea of where this film will go. It’ll focus on the alienation, the struggle to survive, tensions within the family rise, etc. In terms of standing out, nothing appears to do so.

However, I can’t think of a single performance that was lacking, nor a moment where the film was boring, nor a frame where the film didn’t look beautiful. It’s empathetic, tumultuous, loving, and bittersweet. 

Steven Yuen plays the father, Jacob, and he’s just amazing, and so is Han Yeri, who plays the mother. However, the stand-out performances are Youn Yuh-jung, who plays the grandmother, Soon-ja, and Alan Kim, who plays the youngest child, David.

Kim has an energy unlike many child actors seen today. At just 8-years-old, Kim won the 2021 Critics’ Choice Award for ‘Best Young Actor/Actress’ and was nominated for a BAFTA. Yuh-jung was nominated and won the BAFTA for ‘Best Supporting Actress’. Their relationship helps makes this movie what it it.

At first, David is afraid of Soon-ja, a woman he’s never met before, and now he’s told to love her unconditionally. Soon-ja makes various attempts to warm herself up to David, eventually, David’s shield lowers and he accepts his grandma. Their relationship, much like the film, starts bittersweet and tumultuous, but ends tenderly and loving. (4/5)

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