Anthony's Film Review - 'Parasite' (2019)
The story here is so clever and intense that it's easily one of the best movies in recent years...
The Korean film Parasite is about plenty of things. First off, it's a story about haves versus have-nots, the rich versus the poor. It's also a twisted tale of moral depravity, holding a mirror up to human nature's worst selfish impulses. And along those lines, it's an allegory of how one bad decision can lead to another, akin to stepping on a slippery slope that is both very slick and very steep such that a descent into the abyss is inevitable. So as you can imagine, it's a dark drama. It's not only that, though. There are bits of comedy here and there. The result is what this film's director, Bong Joon Ho, describes as a tragicomedy.
The haves and have-nots are represented here by two families. The Park family consists of a father, mother, daughter, and son living in a luxurious gated mansion, with a personal driver and housekeeper paid to provide assistance. On the other end of the socioeconomic spectrum is the Kim family, also comprising a father, mother, daughter and son, but they are all unemployed and living in a slum basement. They are so poor that limited Wi-Fi access for their smartphones because of weak signal strength feels like a blow to them, especially when you consider that it's a means of communication necessary for finding work. The opening scene in which the Kims are looking for just one spot in their basement home with a good Wi-Fi signal is both funny and illustrative of their tough living conditions.
One day, the Kim son lands a much-needed job opportunity. He applies for and successfully gets a job as an English tutor for the daughter in the Park family. This sounds good except for one thing: the college credentials presented to the Parks are actually falsified. This isn't exactly an unfamiliar situation to many people. However, the situation goes further into something we usually don't encounter. Through a series of multiple cons and deceptive acts, the Kim father, mother, and daughter also land different jobs with the wealthy Park family. Because of the tricks they pull off, they have to give the impression that they don't know each other, let alone be members of the same family.
So that's the meaning of the title. The four Kims have access to the amenities of the Park household, so that they're practically living off their wealthy employer as parasites. The idea of this happening is, to a certain degree, rather funny because of how unusual it is. A family, not just one person, living off another family. The first half of the movie can be seen as a comedy because of how the Kim family manages to pull this off. However, it's also more of a dark comedy because of how increasingly offensive their tricks become.
That is all I am going to say about the plot of the movie. The rest of this review will talk about things in a vague manner, which should simultaneously whet the appetites of anyone who has not seem this movie yet and explain my observations to those who have seen this movie already. Either way, I hope you're looking forward to reading what I have next.
So I mentioned that Parasite is a dark comedy in the first half. What about the second half? Well, it is dark. In fact, darker. Much darker. And as a result, Parasite becomes a dark thriller. This change abruptly occurs at a key scene in the middle that no doubt functions as the story's turning point. You could say that the rest of the movie is the real heart of it, with the first half providing nothing more than the setup. The second half is also where you can expect to experience strong feelings, namely fear, shock, and anticipation. You won't be disappointed if this is the kind of film you're looking for.
You will also not be disappointed if you love movies with themes to explore. You can say that there are several themes in this one, but they all point to one thing: the abysmal part of human nature. I was most struck by how the combination of dire circumstances and the desperate need to survive brings out the worst of us. The events in this film also reminded me of how selfishness may do more harm than good, in more ways than one. So yes, Parasite is a film about morals, or rather the lack thereof, within the context of a thriller.
The other thing I loved about this film is how it ultimately ends. Simply put, it's quite original and unexpected, making it brilliant as a result. It's not something I ever anticipated, especially as I cannot think of another movie with a similar kind of ending. Basically, toss your sense of how the world works out the window. That opens up numerous other possibilities for what could ultimately happen. (Again, I am writing for both people who haven't seen this movie and people who have.)
The fact that all of these positive things I'm talking about are for a movie from Korea should illustrate how America isn't the only country making great movies. Every now and then, a film from outside the United States (and the United Kingdom, for that matter) becomes an international sensation because of the many things with the movie to shower praise for. Parasite is one of those movies. And yes, I have checked it out after hearing so much acclaim for it through many entertainment media sources.
So if you love well-written, well-directed, and well-performed movies, you'll love Parasite. If you want that kind of movie and you're curious about what filmmakers from the Eastern part of the world can offer, you definitely can't go wrong with this one. Don't just take my word for it. Look at how some critics are calling Parasite one of the best movies of 2019, and perhaps the decade of the 2010s. It really is THAT good.
Anthony's Rating: 10/10