Film Reviews

Parasite (dir. Joon-Ho)

Universally poignant and thoroughly entertaining

Image: Kang-ho Song, Hye-jin Jang, Woo-sik Choi, and So-dam Park in Gisaengchung © [Source: IMDB]

★★★★★

A poor family, the Kims, con their way into becoming the servants of a rich family, the Parks. But their easy life gets complicated when their deception is threatened with exposure.

Director: Bong Joon-Ho. Starring: Kang-ho Song, Sun-kyun Lee, Yeo-jeong Jo, Woo-sik Choi, So-dam Park, Jeong-eun Lee, Hye-jin Jang, Ji-so Jung [15]

After achieving massive critical and commercial success, you almost have to just hand it to Joon-Ho and Parasite. For a film to hit audiences globally takes a large amount of quality and a firm grasp on something worth talking about. Then to come out of South Korea and be a subtitled picture, takes even more gravitas to capture mainstream audiences.

Parasite is largely quite simply a near perfectly told story. Which is what captures people most of all, this is not just a story of fantasy creation, however, as Parasite endeavours to make subtle and obvious remarks to the social climate of South Korea. But as you can imagine that’s not exactly a topic myself or most audiences globally have any grasp of. So why does it speak so plainly and bridge cultural gaps? It’s because it tells the story of that social divide on very universal terms, rich versus poor. What Joon-Ho does however is deftly weaves that social commentary in a thoroughly entertaining and dramatic tale of a family living under the nose of another.

The layers of commentary that Joon-Ho plays within the picture, such as who is the real parasite, who is more morally correct as each and every scenario is firmly grey, neither black or white as your morals are called into conflict in each and every moment. Carried by forcefully believable performances, both simple and yet profoundly intelligently put together to add even more layers to this already complex narrative. Even the cinematography hand in hand with Joon-Ho’s direction complements the commentary further again, the film does not drop the ball in its message for a moment. And yet, you could watch the entire film simply entertained on the edge of your seat and laughing and the numerously humourous moments that surprise and delight in a picture of such weight.

This is a film that if for a moment you catch yourself thinking a little deeper into what the film is saying you immiedtly start falling down the rabbit hole that Joon-Ho has constructed. As numerous different interpretations and meanings can be pulled from the narrative which is told beautifully with its rich entertainment weaved with dense social commentary. So much so that it can frustrate as the picture nears its climax as the readings presented through the picture suddenly get turned into different shades of grey. I certainly felt that upon reaching the climax the film was trying to say one thing the whole time and was now throwing all those ‘beliefs’ into question. Now I realise that perhaps is the intention, to have you aligned with one political side and then to make you doubt it, make you think about reality.

Parasite wants you to think about the numerous different commentaries it is talking about, it wants you to see what it is saying through the magnificently orchestrated cinematography, it wants you to feel the moral complexity through the memorable music and grasping performances. All that is there for the film to hopefully drag you down the rabbit hole, and yet it is also quite simply a wonderfully told narrative of rich drama and surprising comedic relief. Parasite is a film that like many before it breaks down barriers and hopefully opens peoples eyes to a larger world of cinema. As Joon-Ho said himself, if you can get over the one-inch divide of subtitles, you can be open to a larger pool of sensational cinematic journies that much like travelling can open your eyes. I believe Parasite is one of the most poignant films to reach the mainstream satisfier in some time.

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