Should you see it: You shouldn’t be reading this, you should be buying a ticket right now. 10/10.
IMDB Synopsis: All unemployed, Ki-taek’s family takes peculiar interest in the wealthy and glamorous Parks for their livelihood until they get entangled in an unexpected incident.
if you haven’t seen Parasite, go now. It’s a stunning achievement and one of the tightest, most sophisticated, clever, and intimate films of the 2010s, if not further. Director Bong Joon Ho had a vision, an expertly and concisely executed vision: One part struggle between the haves and have-nots (less economic anxiety and more class mobility), and one part darkly intrinsic look at family, society, and belonging. Without spoiling much that isn’t in the trailers…
The film follows the impoverished Kims, living in the underbelly of Seoul—father Ki-Taek (Song Kang-Ho), mother Chung Sook (Jang Hye-Jin), son Ki-Woo (Choi Woo-sik), and daughter Ki-Jung (Park So-Dam)—taking whatever odd jobs they can (the film opens to them folding pizza boxes). But a chance opportunity for Ki-Woo to tutor a wealthy family’s daughter sets the stage for the film. It’s not spoiling to say that the entire Kim family soon weasels their way into service for the uber wealthy Parks, and more specifically the mother, Yeon-Kyo (Jo Yeo–Jeong).
Watching the Kims infiltrate the Park household during the first half of the film is a sight to behold: Darkly comedic, whip smart, and observant of both family’s worldview. “They are rich, but still nice,” quips Ki-Taek. “They are nice because they are rich,” retorts his wife. A lesser movie would devolve into a clumsy depiction of a class war (eat the rich!), but the nuance and shades of grey director Bong uses to create his characters and their world is as thought-provoking and surprising as it is entertaining.
Rather than devolve into the rote, Parasite becomes something else entirely… something darker and truer. From the turning point—you’ll know it when you see it—director Bong really begins to subvert audience expectation. In a relatively quick timeframe, the Kims, the Parks, and others find themselves in a series of incidents that are equal parts thrilling, vicious, and saddening. The thrill ride the Parasite takes you on in the second half is indescribable without spoiling, but know that it’s edge of your seat gripping, while still managing to keep its darkly humorous tone. By film’s end, Parasite leaves you utterly floored and slightly hopeful, but only just so.
Throughout the 131 minute runtime, but most vividly in the second half, Bong Joon-ho is working at the height of his powers. Without any fat or indulgence, Parasite is laser-focused on its satire of socioeconomic disparity. It doesn’t beat the audience over the head with a hammer (like other notable 2019 films… cough, Joker), rather it surgically penetrates your psyche. It isn’t black and white, there are no good or bad. There are only people. People in two distinctly different worlds. And ultimately, the choices these characters make to create their version of existence.
Highlights: The camerawork, storytelling, and set design are astounding: No wasted space, no self-indulgent sets, and no extraneous storytelling. This entire film is a master at work. Parasite bursts with so much that it’s impossible to highlight without spoiling.
MVP: Park So-Dam turns in an aloof, yet charismatic performance as Kim Ki-Jung. And Jo Yeo-Jeong as Park Yeon-Ko dazzles as the bored, eager-to-please, worrying mother.
Director: Bong Joon Ho
Studio: Neon // Original release date: October 11, 2019