Happy Cleaners (2019)
98 min|Drama, Family|12 Feb 2021
6.8Rating: 6.8 / 10 from 146 usersMetascore: N/A
When the Choi family lose their dry cleaning business, they learn to love each other to survive the crisis and heartaches that they cause each other.

Minari’s success at the Academy Awards this year has indeed stolen the attention of many observers, who would have thought, apparently other Korean immigrant-themed films are also of equally good quality. Happy Cleaners is an American film directed by two filmmakers of Korean descent, Julian Kim and Peter S. Lee. This film stars Hyang Hwa-lim, Charles Ryu, Yeena Sung, and Yun Jeong. So what makes this film different from Minari?

The film tells the story of the life struggles of a husband and wife immigrant from Korea after decades of living in the US with their laundry business. The story also sheds light on their sons and daughters’ lives born in the US, who have a different perspective from their old-fashioned mother and father with hereditary mindset and traditions. Changes in many things that happen around them, forcing them to fight hard to survive.

I would choose this film over Minari. Problems and problems in Happy Cleaners are much more grounded and resonate today. The main conflict is simple and cliché, namely money, but this can lead all characterizations in each character to run uniquely according to their respective perspectives. The mother always feels right by pressuring her husband, son and daughter to follow her mindset. Meanwhile, the calm father is a hard worker and does not compromise much with his wife. The daughter, Hyunny, does not only work to support her family’s living expenses but also her boyfriend, which the mother doesn’t want. Meanwhile, Kevin, the mother’s biggest enemy, dropped out of school and wanted to work in a city across from.

Baca Juga  Brother of the Year

The problems that arise one after another make each character have to adapt to their new situation. This is interesting. The process is patient and natural, showing how each one makes peace by living his way. Many touching moments had sprung up here, between the four of them. One fascinating thing, in each segment, there is always a dining scene that is presented differently from other scenes. Often the cooking process is highlighted in detail and takes a long time. The scene of eating together is vital because it is at this moment that they always meet.

Happy Cleaners is a Korean immigrant family drama film that is unpretentious, down to earth, and touching, with the support of captivating acting plays from all of its main casts and carrying a strong family message. Minari also told about how Korean immigrants struggled, but with a different time setting. Watching Minari is like watching a classic film, while Happy Cleaners highlights everyday life in modern times. The best choice, of course, depends on the experience of each of us in life. Both are memorable films, especially where the anti-Asian issue is currently hot in the US. The struggle for human life to be “marginalized” in Minari and Happy Cleaners is a portrait that can happen to anyone and any race. After thousands of years, the issue of racism still seems to be a scourge for humanity, and it looks as if we don’t want to learn that we are not alone and side by side.

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A lifelong cinephile, he cultivated a deep interest in film from a young age. Following his architectural studies, he embarked on an independent exploration of film theory and history. His passion for cinema manifested in 2006 when he began writing articles and film reviews. This extensive experience subsequently led him to a teaching position at the esteemed Television and Film Academy in Yogyakarta. From 2003 to 2019, he enriched the minds of students by instructing them in Film History, Introduction to Film Art, and Film Theory. His scholarly pursuits extended beyond the classroom. In 2008, he published his seminal work, "Understanding Film," which delves into the core elements of film, both narrative and cinematic. The book's enduring value is evidenced by its second edition, released in 2018, which has become a cornerstone reference for film and communication academics across Indonesia. His contributions extend beyond his own authorship. He actively participated in the compilation of the Montase Film Bulletin Compilation Book Volumes 1-3 and "30 Best Selling Indonesian Films 2012-2018." Further solidifying his expertise, he authored both "Horror Film Book: From Caligari to Hereditary" (2023) and "Indonesian Horror Film: Rising from the Grave" (2023). His passion for film extends to the present day. He continues to provide insightful critiques of contemporary films on montasefilm.com, while actively participating in film production endeavors with the Montase Film Community. His own short films have garnered critical acclaim at numerous festivals, both domestically and internationally. Recognizing his exceptional talent, the 2022 Indonesian Film Festival shortlisted his writing for Best Film Criticism (Top 15). His dedication to the field continues, as he currently serves as a practitioner-lecturer for Film Criticism and Film Theory courses at the Yogyakarta Indonesian Institute of the Arts' Independent Practitioner Program.


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