The Reel Review
This dramedy/thriller from director Bong Joon Ho (Okja, Snowpiercer) is the first Korean film ever to the win the Cannes Film Festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or, in 2019. It is about two families, one rich, one poor, who become immersed in one another’s lives through an unlikely string of events.
Bong Joon Ho’s social satire is a cleverly constructed one, injected with just enough humor and suspense (And twists! It’s very twisty!) to counter its increasingly far-fetched plot. His characters are interesting and realistic – the Kims, a crafty, tightly-knit family of scrappers eeking out an existence in a grimy, cramped, semi-basement apartment, setting their sights on the Parks, a barely-present family wallowing in wealth, privilege and entitled uselessness. It raises the question: who is the true parasite? Is it the poor living off of the rich? Or is it those whose wealth has rendered them lazy and incapable of doing even the most basic of tasks for themselves?
Parasite‘s only real negatives are a story that could have been tightened up a bit in the second half, a ridiculous climax and a plot that has similarities to 2018’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner, Shoplifters, a Japanese social class saga about a family of poor con artists. Both are good, but of the two, this is the slightly better one.
• Parasite is South Korea’s 2020 Oscar entry for Best Foreign Language film.
• Director Bong Joon Ho likes consistency. Parasite is his fourth collaboration with lead actor Kang-ho Song and his third with cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo (Burning).
• Director Bong Joon Ho says Ki-woo’s job as an in-home tutor was the only one that would be plausible for families from two extremes in the class spectrum to cross paths.