Movie Review: Parasite

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R |

Director: Bong Joon Ho 

by Jason Koenigsberg

Bong Joon Ho has always directed insightful films about Korean life that transcend his culture and permeate into others. His newest film Parasite is no exception with themes of the class struggle in South Korea that are universal. It managed to win the coveted Palm D’or at this years Cannes film festival and certainly deserved it. Parasite tells the story of a poor family that cannot pay their bills by folding pizza boxes and are looking to escape living in a basement apartment. The son hears about a job at working for a wealthy family as an English tutor for their child which sets off a course of events where the entire family try to con their way into the upper-class household. 

The opening shot displays socks hanging in the style of a baby mobile near a basement window where we see the sun shine through and people riding bikes and walking around outside of the window. The camera then pans down to reveal a young man playing with his cell phone then he walks out of the frame because he loses service. In this day and age having good cell phone reception is more important than money to many youths around the world. So are the themes of rich parents being overburdened by work and a worrisome mother caring about her children’s education. She cares so much that she hires an English tutor and an art therapist without checking their background after they forged their documents to get into the house for an interview. 

Parasite could have been made in America or any other nation since the themes do not have boundaries. Even the fear of being attacked and having a shelter or a plan of defense is something South Koreans worry about and permeates practically every culture around the globe. Parasite is brutally funny at times and savagely smart even as it deals with such dark and serious content. As the poor family becomes more ingratiated into the wealthy families home, the deceptions that it creates between the family members causes new problems and the script does a fantastic job of keeping information hidden and then revealing new elements to surprise the audience. Kudos to the screenwriters and director for making the audience root for the low-income family made up of such despicable characters. The idea of not having enough money and seeing a family have a surplus makes it easy to forgive the lying and deceitfulness of the main characters. Many films have been made about how a lack of money leads families and seemingly normal, good people to desperation where they would commit heinous acts, but none have ever felt quite like Parasite. It pushes buttons on the viewer in a way that no film of recent memory has.

Of course the poor families ruse to trick the rich family cannot last forever and eventually there is a conflict but the less said about it the better. It is a startling comeuppance that reminds the audience that karma has a way of catching up with people. The final shot ties in beautifully with the opening moment only instead of sunshine we see a main character surrounded by darkness.

Parasite is a dark comic social satire that has to be seen by anyone tired of the mundane motion pictures Hollywood has released in 2019. It joins Midsommar and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood as being not only one of the best films of the year but also one of the only movies that felt fresh, unique and has the power to rejuvenate ones love of cinema. Parasite manages to touch on every emotion and no other film thus far in 2019 has had the power to disturb and heartbreak as seamlessly as Bong Joon Ho’s newest and arguably best film does here. Parasite is a mischievous morality tale and one of the most timely and sensationally entertaining films of recent years. 

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