When it comes to the arts we like order. What I mean is that we like things which slot easily into categories. In music we like when songs/bands fit into genres like pop, jazz or rock. Painting into impressionism, avant garde and realism. When it comes to films we almost insist that what we watch can fall into categories like drama, comedy, fantasy, sci fi or action. In a demonstration of masterful filmmaking director Bong Joon Ho’s (Snowpiercer, The Host) latest film is uncategorizable and that is a great thing.
Korean film Parasite has made waves from the beginning. At Cannes it won the Palme D’or and on Rotten Tomatoes it has the almost perfect rating of 99%. As such Oscar buzz has sprung up around it. Despite all this you can still go see it today and be blown away by its excellence. What I mean is that it stands up to the expectations. This is a film which will be appreciated by true film fans.
The Kim family, Ki-taek (Kang-ho Song – Thirst, A Taxi Driver), Ki-jung (So-dam Park – The Priests, The Silenced), Ki-woo (Woo-sik Choi – Train to Busan, The Witch: Part 1 – The Subversion), and Chung-sook (Hye-jin Jang – Mothers, Marine Boy), are stuck in poverty. Chronically unemployed, living in a rundown basement flat and with no hope for the future. Their luck changes when Ki-woo’s friend Min (Seo-joon Park – Fight for My Way, Chronicles for Evil) gets him a gig tutoring a high school girl in English.
Once Ki-woo is in with the Parks, Yeon-kyo (Yeo-jeong Jo – The Servant, The Target), Dong-ik (Sun-kyun Lee – A Hard Day, Paju), Da-hye (Ji-so Jung – The Tiger), and Da-song (Hyun-un Jung – first film), the Kims manage to all get jobs with the wealthy family without the Parks realizing they are being played or that their new housekeeper, art therapy teacher, chauffeur, and English tutor are all related.
The Kims think they are finally on easy street with all the money they are making from working at the Parks’. Soon enough this family, which seems to exist under dark cloud, finds out that a short cut to success is not going to work out for them.
Going into this film blind is the best strategy. Not knowing much about it will only amplify your enjoyment. All you really need to know is that you are in the hands of a master filmmaker. Though you might think that this is all just unplanned chaos with all that is going on, but nothing could be further from the truth. Everything has been thought out from the way it looks to the set. Yes, there is a lot going on and it all blends together perfectly.
Parasite is an experience. Not just something you watch and then forget about. You will be totally invested in what is going on. When it shifts gears from social satire to straight up horror, you will just clutch the arms of your seat tighter and hang on for the ride. We gladly venture into the twisted landscape which is laid out in front of us.
Within all that is going on Parasite is one which addresses social issues such as class divide. Rich vs. poor. Something that seems popular today (see Joker) and preoccupies filmmakers. Done dark satire style. Brilliant! Of course, it is not one of those rich vs. poor films which looks down its nose at one of the two groups. It is way too much fun for that kind of stuffiness. Instead you begin to realize that no matter how poor or rich that the problem is humans. We are awful. Our behaviour is terrible no matter our income.
-Q&A with Director Bong Joon Ho