Winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival this year, Korean director Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite is as close to cinematic perfection as you can get. Joon-Ho’s film ebbs and flows with deliciously dark humour, twisted shocks and stunning drama while taking us on a rollercoaster ride that could only come from the ingenuity of Korean cinema.
Living in a squalid basement flat, the Kim family, Father Ki-Taek (Kang-ho Song), mother Chung-sook (Hye-jin Jang) and their college-aged kids Ki-Woo (Choi Woo-Shik) and Ki-Jung (Park So-dam) live on the very edges of the city, their lives wrapped in poverty. Each family member eagerly searches for opportunities to scrape together a little more cash; their small flat an underground prison where unknown people urinate through their window after dark. However, despite this squalor, the Kim family are strong, optimistic and ingenious in ensuring their cash stretches as far as possible.
Following a chance encounter with a college friend, Ki-Woo gets a job posing as a university-educated English tutor. His tutee is the teenage daughter of a wealthy city family (The Parks), and his role gives him entry to the wealth and luxury of a family who appears to have it all. But more importantly, Ki-Woo’s position allows him to orchestrate jobs for the rest of his family, and before long, the whole Kim tribe are working for the Parks; the wealthy family unaware that each of their new staff members is related. However, as the Kim family settle into their new roles, events spiral out of their control, as secrets are aired, privileges are squandered, and the Park family home is explored.
Echoing Hitchcock, Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite offers us a sublimely dark and comical dive into what makes us human and what makes us tick. Parasite doesn’t just gloriously unpick the foundations of wealth, social class and opportunity; it takes a scalpel to them. Here Bong Joon-Ho slices through the social structures that divide our society into haves and have-nots with a narrative exploring the uncomfortable marriage between ultra-wealth and extreme poverty.
Laced with nerve-shredding tension and laugh-out-loud comedy, Parasite offers us a slice of cinematic creativity so sadly missing in many modern American productions as we are submerged into an ocean of manipulation and lies.
An organism that lives in or on an organism of another species (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the other’s expense.
Director: Bong Joon Ho