Starring Directed by Bong Joon-ho.
Starring Song Kang-ho, Choi Woo-shik, Chang Hyae-jin, Park So-dam, Cho Yeo-jeong, Lee Sun-kyun, Jung Ziso and Lee Jung-eun.
When a penniless family stumble upon the opportunity to integrate themselves into the lives of a rich family, they’re not quite prepared for the kind of doors this new lifestyle might open for them.
Bong Joon-ho’s wickedly playful Parasite finally opens its glacial doors following the 2019 Palme d’Or win and $163 million at the worldwide box-office. What you’ll find within this labyrinthine-layered twisted tale of deceit is probably best left unsaid, but as the cast-and-crew blazes a trail through the award circuit, know that no amount of hyperbole can diminish the impact of watching Parasite gracefully unspool before your eyes. It’s one-of-a-kind filmmaking.
We’re introduced to the Kim family, a seemingly normal collective living below the poverty line, as well as the street level, who subsidise their existence by folding pizza boxes for pennies. Their luck threatens to change when Ki Woo (Woo-sik Choi) is presented with a business opportunity by one of his college friends: to tutor the daughter of the affluent Park family. Unbeknownst to eachother, the two families slowly begin to assimilate, before secrets spill from the darkest recesses of the house and their own psyches.
A tale of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, and how despite the lengths people will go to try and attain wealth and status, long held societal bias will always keep that distance between the classes. Bong’s commentary might not be subtle, but it provides the perfect canvas upon which to weave the Shakespearean level machinations to be found at the dark heart of the script.
On which, the story is a truly Machiavellian delight, full of duplicity and scheming, particularly on the part of unscrupulous daughter Ki-Jung, played so magnificently by So-Dam Park. In fact the entire cast are uniformly brilliant, with Kang-ho Song’s patriarch striking the perfect balance between sympathetic buffoon and irresponsible father. Such duality afflicts almost all of the characters and themes on display, meaning you’re constantly ill-at-ease with where you allegiances should land. Trying to second guess Parasite is an impossible task.
That’s half the fun though. Not knowing where a film is taking you is an increasingly rare experience these days, and such a disarming approach accentuates some of the more unsettling set-pieces. Without going into much detail, there’s an excruciating sequence in which a character is trapped under a table for an extended period of time that’ll have you digging your fingernails into the chair arm, and it plays out, much like the rest of the film, in exquisite fashion. By the time you get to the operatic beauty of the finale, orchestrated by Jaeil Jung’s stunning score, you’ve completely submitted to the director’s unique vision.
Bong Joon-ho has crafted a complex parable without an ounce of storytelling fat on it, one that cyclically subverts the audience expectation of what kind of film they’re watching. Is it a horror, a comedy, or family drama based on the breakdown of the global class system? Parasite is all of those things and more, while always remaining a singular piece of pure cinematic entertainment.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Matt Rodgers – Follow me on Twitter @mainstreammatt