What makes ‘Parasite’ so satisfying is that it commits neither error. It’s an engrossing, stylish and near perfect movie, and its underlying themes go beyond merely pointing out class exploitation to challenge the logic of capital. Though he is often juggling a mosaic of characters, themes and social issues, Bong never eschews his anarchic impulses and dark humour. It’s a movie that should be seen as widely as possible, if only so that Bong Joon-ho gets more chances to make movies for modern audiences that badly need them.
- Jake Watt
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The working class and down on their luck Kim family struggle to make ends meet. When a friend of the son, Ki-Woo’s, who is an English tutor for the daughter in the wealthy Park family, has to leave his position, he recommends Ki-Woo for the job. Now having an "in" with the wealthy family, the Kims begin plotting the downfall of the current household servants and inserting themselves into those vacant positions, making them all gainfully employed and with money finally flowing into the household. But not everything is as it seems in the Park house or with their previous servants.
This movie starts out as a comedy and quickly goes into social commentary, pointing out the differences between the poor working class family and the wealthy privileged family. The differences are ones that get commonly pointed out with the well-to-do having what usually gets termed as first-world-problems, while the poor family is literally trying to survive and save meager possessions in a flood. It doesn’t shy away or try to be subtle about it, but interestingly enough, we don’t feel beaten over the head with it either, which is a major change from the ham-fisted approach taken by most filmmakers. Couching this in a comedy is a good approach, as well, as the audience’s guard is let down and we become more receptive to the ideas.
However, I do say it’s MOSTLY a comedy. The third act takes a dark, dark turn, and the contrast, not to mention general disdain and even indifference, between the classes becomes much more severe. This gets into some hard territory, and characters that we’ve found quirky and even come to like in some ways show very different sides of themselves. At the same time, it doesn’t feel unexpected, almost like we could tell that this was under the surface all the time and tried to ignore it, but aren’t surprised by it when it does show up. This is some masterful characterization!
Another aspect of note is that this film is rich in allegory and metaphor. It’s a smart film, yet at the same time the filmmakers are not condescending about it. They give the audience credit for being able to understand the symbolism and don’t spoon feed you everything, which is a refreshing change from the usual head-beating most filmmakers go for. At the same time, they understand that not every audience member will understand or immediately pick up on every symbol, but they have crafted this so carefully and so perfectly that you don’t have to understand each and every one. That understanding merely enriches the experience, but isn’t essential to it.
This film has gotten some recognition, and deservedly so. It is rich, intelligent, and polished to a degree that we sadly don’t see as often as we should nowadays, showing the filmmakers are masters of their craft. This is easily one of the best films I’ve seen in 2019. Highly recommended!