Parasite is an unforgettable tale that more than justifies its considerable Awards Season hype. Bong Joon-ho’s latest movie skilfully defies simple genre classification, moving from black comedy to searing drama to, well …. something else entirely.
It pays to go into the film completely unaware of what’s involved as events do take a sharp and unexpected turn midway through. From start to finish though, it’s gripping viewing that you simply cannot look away from.
At it’s centre, the film is a class war comedy addressing the disparities inherent within both Korean and capitalist society in general.
Parasite follows the Kims, a close-knit but poor family who live in a crowded sub-basement and are struggling to make ends meet. The Kims begin to grift their way into the employment of a well-to-do family, the Parks, and set about ensconcing themselves in the latter’s sumptuous home; taking full advantage of their gullibility.
The contrast in the daily lives and opportunities of the two families is stark. The films is careful however never to demonise or praise either side of the divide too strongly though. The Kims are unscrupulous but support each other completely and are ultimately just trying to make a living. The Parks meanwhile are oblivious to their own rudeness and while not as close as the Kims, they are still perfectly nice, polite and well meaning. As a result, traditional hero/villain lines are left purposefully blurred.
The script is sharp and clever, the cinematography precise and inventive and the entire cast pitch perfect. The Park family home is a memorable centre piece too, a feat of architectural engineering which practically becomes a character in its own right by the end of the film.
It isn’t easy to combine pointed social commentary with sheer popcorn entertainment, but the director strikes a stunning balance here and delivers a film that is both gripping and thought provoking in equal measure.
See it with as little prior knowledge as possible and let yourself get absorbed into the beautifully orchestrated chaos.