MPAA Rating: R/Genre: Black Comedy-Thriller/ Stars: Song Kang-ho, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Jang Hye-jin, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Jung Ji-so, Jung Hyeon-jun, Lee Jung-eun, Park Myung-hoon, Park Geun-rok, Park Seo-joon/Runtime: 132 minutes
I feel it must be said that with his most recent cinematic outings, we in the film community have been able to witness writer/director Bong Joon-ho see his cinematic reach in the filmmaking world significantly expand. Indeed I say that because while this visionary talent was able to capture film lovers time and attention with a truly intriguing and engaging monster movie called The Host all the way back in 2006, I definitely feel that some of his more recent films, with particular regard to the 2014 sci-fi dystopian masterpiece Snowpiercer and his engaging, one-of-a-kind 2017 film that was Okja, were done with the intent to help this auteur find a bigger audience due to quite a few “Western” stars in the casts and the majority of the dialogue being in English.
With that being said I definitely feel that although Parasite, is a homecoming of sorts, I mean this film’s narrative IS set in modern-day South Korea after all, I also feel that this just might also be his greatest cinematic experience so far and the film which will get him the biggest audience possible. Indeed I say that because by choosing to tackle the very unnerving yet equally as universal dilemma of socioeconomic disparity, this one of a kind auteur of cinema has found himself able to design for audiences a cinematic experience that contains not just intelligent and yet extremely biting satire, but also soon reveals itself to also be in many ways to be a quite potent and quite surprising thrill ride that suffice it to say has more than a few surprises in hiding throughout its 132 minute runtime.
The plot is as follows: Parasite takes us to the country of South Korea and introduces us to the Kim family who have as of late found themselves living in, from an economic standpoint, what could best be described as the absolute bottom of the food chain. How bad is it you might be wondering? Well when this pack of leaches isn’t engaged in their daily quest of attempting to latch on and utilize Wi-Fi that isn’t theirs, or attempting to make their way in the world and survive courtesy of folding cardboard pizza boxes for a local pizzeria, they’re shooing away drunks who like to do their business outside their window. Simply put: the Kim family can’t even be considered to be the bottom rung in terms of socioeconomic status. If anything they are closer to the parts that keep the ladder from falling over. Yeah it’s that bad. Yet even though this is a family which clearly lacks in terms financial, they definitely make up for it both in shrewdness and being able to come together as a family. 2 things that unexpectedly become huge strengths when an opportunity comes their way. An opportunity which takes the form of the male child being personally recommended by a dear friend to be his replacement in his position of tutor for the daughter of a well-to-do family known as the Park family. It isn’t long though before this also becomes quite the brilliant way to help the rest of the family find well-paying work since the matriarch of the Park family is just a tad bit too much in the naivety department plus is a little too quick in trusting people, and the patriarch really is not in the picture as much due to being a career man through and through. Thus with a little bit of ingenuity and a whole lot of scheming, it isn’t long before every single person in the Kim family has managed to manage to infiltrate the upper class with the utmost in terms of dishonesty and skilled coercion and manipulation. However just as this pack of vultures is finally about to celebrate this monumental good fortune, an unexpected curveball finds itself getting hurtled into the mix. A curveball which, suffice it to say, threatens to bring way more than just this fragile house of cards tumbling down…..
Now in case the distinct style of this review had yet to fully give this away, I feel that you should know that Parasite really truly is a cinematic experience that is best enjoyed when you can see all of the twists and turns for yourself rather than have them revealed to you. Suffice it to say then that please do not take my particular lack of any specific detail here in this review to be an indicator of the possibility that that there isn’t a single thing that is noteworthy to say about this masterpiece. I say that because, if anything, it is actually quite the reverse. Indeed suffice it to say then ladies and gentlemen that this movie, with particular regard to the second half, does manage to go to some very unique places in order to showcase the extremely distinct outlooks that individuals choose to see the world around each and every one of us based entirely on the point of views that the socioeconomic classes contribute to society.
With that being said, I feel that what I can say whilst working and writing a review that functions as a complete and total spoiler-clear atmosphere is that just how clever the main family at the heart of this narrative can easily also be seen as a direct mirroring of just how clever and sneaky the filmmakers truly are. This is because as the main family’s scheme gets more and more complex, we are also given a showcase in both intellect and sly yet snarky wit. Indeed it may all start with the main character pressuring his sister into using her talent for Photoshop in order to get him credentials he doesn’t even remotely possess, I feel it is safe to say that everything escalates from there as this dynamic duo as well as their parental units manage to find distinct yet creative ways in order to embed themselves inside the lives of the Parks as well as their household. Indeed I definitely feel that it truly is absolutely brilliant on the part of the team of writers that they got to work on this film that all of this actually manages to create in audiences both huge smiles and significant periods of laughter in equal measure. Plus when you add in some truly engaging performances as well as fantastic visuals you are left with a film that is both a true treat for the mind as well as a bountiful feast for the eye.
Of course it is no secret that for the performances to work then the casting had to be top-notch in the filling of virtually every single role. Suffice it to say then that the ensemble that was brought together to make this is absolutely incredible. This of course starts with two of the younger stars named Woo-sik Choi and So-dam Park who I feel do a fantastic job at showcasing just how much of an expert these 2 young people are at being able to slimily get the Parks to blindly yet readily respect and even trust them. Yet although I feel these 2 young actors do amazing work on their own, I feel it is absolutely next level worthy when you pair them up with Kang-ho Song and Hye-jin Jang as their parents. Indeed there really is an air of long acted and rehearsed innocence that they manage to convey as a family and even when they are acting like a pack of piranha and metaphorically ripping to shreds the helpless Kim family you still can’t help but root for them. As for the actors playing the consistently and unknowingly under siege Kim family, I definitely think that the actors portraying them all do a magnificent job in their own unique ways of giving us performances that are equal parts clueless and snobby to a t.
Yet as hilarious as this film at moments truly can become however, I feel it should also be said that this is also a movie that is able to brilliantly see when it needs to really hit a movie goer with the cold truth about what this movie is attempting to showcase. To that end, the movie finds itself able to brilliantly pivot in tone at key moments that really aid this material in its mission of elevating the subject matter to another level entirely. Indeed this is a movie that I promise you will be able to both make you laugh yet also leave your mouth agape in equal measure with special regard going towards the latter since the movie really does begin to increase the intensity of what goes on the closer the film gets to a 3rd act which, for lack of a better word, is simply memorable.
All in all by managing to possess in equal measure an intelligent eye for brilliant eye for particular characteristics as well an incredible ear for the mood of a film, I feel it is safe to say that Bong Joon-ho has managed to make himself one of the most extraordinary filmmakers in the business today. With that being said though I definitely feel that Parasite is in all aspects yet another masterpiece in this auteur’s filmography. Indeed make no mistake every single bit of positivity that you have heard about this film is definitely true, and if you should get the opportunity to go see this and pass on it that would most definitely be the worst mistake you could make. Indeed take some time out of your time, and definitely give this movie a watch. You will not regret it. On a scale of 1-5 I give Parasite a solid 5 out of 5.