Winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival this year. Korean director Bong Joon-Ho‘s new movie, Parasite is as close to cinematic perfection as I have seen during 2019. Creating a film that ebbs and flows with deliciously dark humour, shocks and drama in equal measure. While taking the audience on a rollercoaster ride of twists and turns.
Living in a squalid basement flat, the Kim family; Father Ki-taek (Kang-ho Song), mother Chung-sook (Hye-jin Jang) and college aged kids Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) and Ki-jung (Park So-dam) live a life on the verge of poverty. Each family member eagerly searching for opportunities to scrape together a little more cash. Their small flat an underground prison where people unknowingly urinate through their window after a night out drinking. However, despite this the Kim family remain strong, optimistic and ingenious in making their cash stretch as far as possible.
After a chance encounter with a college friend, Ki-woo gets a job posing as a university-educated English tutor. His tutee the teenage daughter of a wealthy city family (The Parks). The role allowing Ki-woo a taste of the unattainable wealth and luxury experienced by others, in a city of extremes. Alongside the potential to deviously orchestrate jobs for the rest of his family. A move that soon leads the whole Kim tribe to the front door of the Parks residence; the wealthy family unaware that each new staff member is related. However, as the Kim family settle in to their new roles, events begin to spiral out of their control. As secrets are aired, privileges squandered and the depths of the Park family home explored.
Echoing the narrative style of Hitchcock Parasite offers a sublime deep dive into the what makes us human. While Bong Joon-Ho rides rough shot over traditional genre boundaries, his direction joyously taking us down what appears to be a smooth road. Until a giant pot hole shakes and shocks us, making us fearful of the journey ahead.
This is a film that swells with anger, laughter, love, humility and sorrow. Gloriously dissecting social class and opportunity, while never allowing the audience to take sides. Consequently playing with a sense of illusion in the ability of social classes to co-exit in the same reality. In a narrative exploring the uncomfortable marriage of convenience between wealth and poverty. A marriage that feeds on social division, envy and cheep labour in furthering the capitalist dream.
However, it is Bong Joon-Ho’s use of humour laced with nerve shredding tension that brings Parasite to life. As we witness each member of the Kim family spiral out of control under a blanket of manipulation and lies. While the Park family continue to blindly feed division as they seek to further their own wealth and position. Ultimately offering us one of the most complex, riveting and engaging films of a generation. All the time playing with our inner thoughts on the nature of the word ‘parasite’. While equally never offering simple answers in the identification of leech and prey. The very constructs of our global economic utopia ultimately placed under the microscope. In a film that ensures you are part of the narrative; a voyeur in exploring needs, aspiration and wealth.
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