There are movies that move you, movies that shock you, movies that make you laugh, make you clench the nearest person’s hand, make you question just how disparate lifestyle can be between differing social classes; Parasite is all of these and more. It’s gripping, it’s beautiful, it’s hilarious, wicked and insane. The script is rich with subtext, symbolism and foreshadowing, the characters are complex, charismatic and hilarious, in short, if there ever was a perfect movie, this is it.
Expectations were high after Parasite won the prestigious Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival (the first Korean film to do so), and only continued to climb as every glowing review hailed it a masterpiece that would define the decade; cut to a few months later and it is now the highest grossing foreign film of the year, and is expected to have a historic run during this year’s awards season; being the first Korean film to also be nominated for an Oscar. It’s my favorite movie of the year so far and one of my favorite films of the decade for sure.
So what is it about Parasite that is so infectious? Well, much like the title suggests, the film feeds on you, it attaches itself to you after you watch it and refuses to let go. There is a lot to dissect and scenes or moments will play in your head and keep coming back for days. It’s a film that can’t really be described through a specific genre as the story itself plays with tone throughout and elegantly transitions from suspense to drama to comedy often times within a single scene alone.
My biggest recommendation is to go in blind and let the film just tell you its story, teach you its lessons and take you on a ride with turns and thrills all throughout. If you haven’t already seen the film, go see it before reading the actual review portion. But if you have seen it, you’re clear.
There’s a lot to love about Parasite, I mean a lot. The symbolism throughout, how tightly wound the script is, how the second half should feel like a completely different movie but somehow, it doesn’t, and how that door reveal had the potential to completely derail the entire thing but instead only makes it so much more profound and ingenious. Even the title is just on-the-nose enough to reveal exactly who these characters are and what’s in store for them.
You’re not supposed to root for the Kim family, at least I wasn’t always. Each family represented here is written in a way that is likable enough to root for, but are also corrupt or twisted in their ways, leading to a moral ambiguity that makes the whole experience that much more impartial and engaging. Their motivations become unpredictable and therefore the whole time you’re wondering exactly who will come out on top or how the story will end up.
The biggest change up in the story is obviously about the halfway point when a door is opened and it all goes to hell, and in the case for Parasite, it almost literally into hell.
First time watching it, my jaw literally dropped, even watching it a second and third time still gave me chills. What’s most impressive is how the film navigates a twist like that, in fact, upon re-watch, it makes it that much more rewarding as you begin to find clues leading up to it and can appreciate the effect it ends up having on the rest of the story. My first watch, I was scared that it would derail the film but if anything, it adds a layer of depth, mystery and suspense that wasn’t there before.
The first half is amazingly executed as well though, don’t get me wrong and up until *the moment* all is going according to plan for the Kims and for a moment, everything is right in their world and we’re left wondering just how much more the family can end up getting away with. Up until that point, it’s been its own downward spiral of morality as the family continues to one-up their schemes to all become employed for the Parks. It’s at this point that for me as an audience member, I began to question if I was even supposed to root for them.
And that is what Bong Joon-Ho’s direction and writing do in Parasite, they defy expectations and remain one or two steps ahead of the audience. I highly recommend watching Parasite again if you’ve seen it once already. The way the film ties itself up, the way it winds and wanes without losing its structure or sense of purpose truly is the work of a master of his craft. I don’t expect Bong to top this, I don’t even expect him to try and outdo it. An artist like Bong Joon-Ho knows his strengths, knows how to make an audience laugh, cry, scream and more. Hell, he’s been consistently delivering bops for decades. He’s one of the most exciting filmmakers working today and I can’t even begin to imagine what he’s going to do with the horror genre on his next project.
As for now though, he deserves any and all praise he’s receiving for Parasite as it truly is worth the hype and acclaim it should be receiving come awards season. I love this movie so much for what it is, I love the ambiguous ending, I love the characters, the moments within it. I eagerly anticipate getting to watch it over and over, each time with someone new, introducing them into its meticulously crafted labyrinth.