Bong Joon-ho is a South Korean filmmaker that has garnered much critical and commercial acclaim in the last few decades. He's perhaps most famous for The Host in 2006 and Snowpiercer in 2013, both among South Korea's highest-grossing films. While working on Snowpiercer, Bong had been talking with a theater actor friend and his experiences as a tutor. In his 20s, he tutored the son of a wealthy Seoul family and considered adapting the experience for the stage. After finishing Snowpiercer, Bong started working on a film treatment based on these experiences and finished it after 2017's Okja. The film was shot during 2018 and was released in 2019 at the Cannes Film Festival to overwhelmingly positive reviews. It took home the Palme d'Or at Cannes and, as of this writing, received six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. So, let's take a look at Bong Joon-ho's Oscar-nominated film, Parasite.
The Kim's are going through tough times, living in a run-down basement apartment and working lower-wage jobs, struggling to survive. One day, they're visited by Min-hyuk (Park Seo-joon), a friend of son Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik), who offers Ki-woo an opportunity. Min had been tutoring the daughter of a rich family, the Park's, in English but is leaving to study abroad. He suggests that Ki-woo pose as a university student and take the job, which he does thanks to his family. Once Ki-woo sees how well off they are, he and his family plan to trick them into giving them jobs. Daughter Ki-jeong (Park So-dam) starts teaching art, and parents Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho) and Chung-sook (Chang Hyae-jin) are driver and housekeeper. With their jobs seemingly secure, the Kim's bask in the wealth they've accumulated thanks to them tricking the Park's. But soon, their deception will come back to bite them.
Going into Parasite, I knew very little about what to expect, other than the basic premise and its critical acclaim. All things considered, that's probably the best way to see this film: know as little as possible when seeing it. Parasite is one of those rare films that can appeal to both mainstream audiences and more niche audiences. It has a straightforward-enough plot and relatable characters while mixing in enough weirdness and deeper meaning for the arthouse crowd. Bong Joon-ho's direction is remarkable, using visual cues to help tell the story and show what the characters are experiencing. Everyone in the cast does a fantastic job, each offering something to make them stand out from one another. The score by Jung Jae-il perfectly compliments the film and adds the final touch that makes this film a masterpiece. This is honestly one of those rare films that are virtually flawless.
At its core, Parasite is a social satire about the haves and the have-nots, showing two perspectives on similar things. For instance, when it's storming, the Parks think it's beautiful, the Kims consider it a matter of life and death. The film makes points about the rich never have to worry, whereas the less fortunate have to scrounge and scheme. Neither family does anything to make them awful people, and you understand where each of them is coming from. Without spoiling anything, while the film starts as a dark comedy, there's a point where the film becomes a thriller. Thankfully, it's not one of those reveals that feel out of the left-field, but it seems plausible given the context. Every so often, films like Parasite or The Lighthouse come around that remind us of how powerful cinema can be. Overall, Parasite deserves a spot as one of 2019's best films.
Buy Parasite on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2U3Dbzk