Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
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With a name like Parasite and being directed by the director of The Host and Snowpiercer, I was expecting something MUCH different than what we got. Since I literally went into Parasite intentionally ignoring every trailer and tidbit of information out there on the film (Bong Joon Ho’s movies are best walked into with as little information as possible for a fresh experience) I had images of monsters or nasty viruses being spread everywhere, so you can imagine how uneasy I was during the opening act. I kept expecting the monster to come out at any second, and it wasn’t till the second act that the concept of the film slowly dawned on me. We weren’t watching a horror movie, but something much more insidious and sneaky in terms of social messages. Bong Joon Ho blends in a dramatic thriller with high brow social class commentary in a way that makes both arthouse and general audiences completely at ease, accessible to both.
The Kim family leaves in squalor, and really sees no reason to exercise will or effort to raise themselves from that situation. Father Ki-taek (Kang-ho Song) and his wife Moon-gwang (Hye-jin Jang) have been out of work for the last 6 months, with their children Ki-woo (Woo-sik Choi) and Ki-jun (So-dam Park) having to take odd jobs to make ends meet. Ki-woo gets an opportunity of a lifetime when he’s asked by his friend to cover his tutoring of a rich girl’s English lessons while he goes abroad. Even though he’s never been to university in his life, Ki-woo’s life experience has made him quite adept at he English language, and he desperately needs the money. Thanks to his sister Ki-jun’s technical skills he forges some documents and soon ingratiates himself into the rich lives of the Park family.
However, This is not just a job, and what happens next has happened before. Preying on the naivety of Mrs Park (Yeo-jeong Jo), Ki-woo hints that he might know of an art teacher for their artistic child. This art teacher turns out to be Ki-jun under and assumed name, and now the TWO of them have jobs. Slowly but surely the Kim family winds and worms their way into various other positions in the rich Park family, simulating a parasitic relationship as they suck the wealthy family for all they’re worth. However, the deeper they go, cracks start forming in their devious plan, as both family’s dark secrets start bubbling up to the surface.
To put it simply, Parasite is a superbly directed, written, and acted film that magically bridges the gap between arthouse and general viewers with relative ease. The main thriller narrative is easily accessible to cinema goers everywhere, but the underlying themes get deeper and deeper the more you peel back the onion layers of the script. After watch the movie 3 times this week I’ve gained a new appreciation for the story with every viewing, and fully understood why it was the first Korean film to gain nominations for the Academy Awards (a huge win for Bong-joon Ho). It’s a taught thriller, a compelling story piece, and a painfully poignant caricature of class warfare. Nothing is ever out of balance, and nothing is ever overly in your face. Instead it unfolds with disturbing elegance with uncomfortable overtones, leaving the viewer both sad and happy by the time the credits start rolling. Multiple viewings only gain more insight into the inner workings of Bong-joon Ho and the film only gets better each time I’ve sat down to watch it.
Rated R for language, some violence and sexual content
Parasite’s exploration of the symbiosis of the social classes is EASILY one of my favorite films of the year. Well, ok, it’s only one month into 2020 so I’ll have to amend that. It’s one of the best films that I’ve seen in the last 12 months, and for good reason. Bong-joon Ho is a masterful director (I loved Snowpiercer) and his blend of writing, directing, and exquisite cinematography make for a lavish viewing experience. The fact that I have gotten something new out of the film each of the 3 times that I have watched it speaks to its dense narrative structure, and this has become one of the most highly recommended films of the year from me. No question about it, a must own.
Starring: Kang-ho Song, Sun-kyun Lee, Yeo-jeong Jo, Woo-sik Choi, So-dam Park, Jeong-eun Lee, Hye-jin Jang
Directed by: Bong-joon Ho
Written by: Bong Joon Ho, Jin Won Han
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: Korean: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 132 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 28th, 2020
Recommendation: Must Own