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If You Liked Minari, Here Are 5 Other Films You May Enjoy

These five films deal similarly with the immigrant experience, class and race
If You Liked Minari, Here Are 5 Other Films You May Enjoy
  • Sahir Avik D'souza

  • Film Companion

Last Updated: 07.25 AM, May 15, 2021


Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari is the story of a Korean family in America of the 1970s, trying to make a life for themselves on a farm in rural Arkansas. The film became available for Indian audiences to watch on Amazon Prime Video earlier this week. If you watched and enjoyed it, here are some other films that deal similarly with the immigrant experience, class and race.

irrfan in the namesake

Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar

Mira Nair’s affecting adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel is a very Minari-esque story of an Asian family in the 1970s and 1980s settling in America. Here, too, there is a young couple who bear two children, a boy and a girl, and struggle to fit themselves into a culture removed from the one they are used to. But The Namesake is more ambitious, charting the immigrant experience across two generations. Where Ashima (Tabu) and Ashoke (Irrfan Khan) timidly make their way through American life, their children, especially their son Gogol (Kal Penn), are keen to shuck off what they see as their parents’ unAmerican way of life. But Gogol will learn that the Indianness his parents have bequeathed to him is not necessarily antithetical to his Americanness, and that it will catch up with him in ways he did not expect.

Streaming on: Netflix

Alfonso Cuarón’s widely acclaimed, stunningly lensed black-and-white drama is the plotless tale of a young housemaid in 1970s Mexico City. The film was inspired by Cuarón’s own growing years. Cleo, the housemaid (Yalitza Aparicio in an Oscar-nominated debut), cleans the home of the wealthy family she lives with and looks after their children. She must also contend, in the months to come, with a pregnancy, an earthquake, two holidays, a fire, an irresponsible boyfriend and more. Roma is often indulgent, with scenes stretching on and on, but it is suffused with a sweetness and a poignancy, and it is told with an arresting visual style.


Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video

The first foreign-language film to win the Best Picture Oscar, and the first film in over sixty years to also win the Palme d’Or, was Bong Joon-ho’s astounding study of class. Constructed as a thriller, thundering towards a violent climax, and consistently unpredictable, Parasite managed to balance its social message (tucked into various visual and spatial metaphors) and unadulterated entertainment. The lower-class Kim family infiltrate the home of the wealthy Park family, posing as various hired help. But they forget that as they claw their way up the class ladder, those around them scramble along too. Bong Joon-ho had previously looked at the dangers of class wars in Snowpiercer, but Parasite is slicker and more polished. And it is elevated considerably by a cast who play wonderfully off and with each other.

Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video

Emily (Zoe Kazan) and Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) hook up one night before starting a relationship soon after. She’s white and a student; he’s Pakistani-origin and an aspiring comedian. Their relationship is tough, complicated by Kumail’s parents insisting he marry a Pakistani girl. (There’s a great running gag where an eligible Pakistani girl always happens to ‘drop by’ when Kumail visits his parents.) Just after they decide to break up, Emily develops a lung infection and goes into a coma. Kumail stays by her side and bonds, through her sickness, with her parents. The story is inspired by the romance of Nanjiani and his real-life wife Emily V Gordon; the two wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay together. The film mixes melancholy with humour very satisfyingly. The cast also includes Holly Hunter as Emily’s mum and Anupam Kher as Kumail’s dad.


Streaming on: Netflix

I’ll end this list with a lovely high school romance film that, unlike other films in its genre, locates the real essence of adolescence: not romantic fulfilment, but the journey to discover selfhood. Alice Wu’s queer take on a Cyrano de Bergerac kind of story is about Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis), a quiet Chinese-American student who agrees to help the class jock, Paul (Daniel Diemer), woo his crush, Aster (Alexxis Lemire). The big win in The Half of It is that Wu takes this conventional structure and upends every stereotype: the jock is not a dick; Ellie does not fall for Paul, but develops feelings for Aster; there is no predictable romantic denouement. And Ellie’s race is not the focus of the story: it simply one part of her identity, just as being queer is one part of her identity. There are so many parts to our individual identities and maybe our ‘better’ halves are … ourselves?