Release Date: October 11, 2019 (limited)
Directed by: Joon-ho Bong
Cast: Kang-ho Song, Yeo-jeong Jo, So-dam Park
Synopsis: Twists and turns lay ahead as a family in need seeks to exploit a wealthy household by clandestine means.
Rating: 4/4 Stars
[The following review is spoiler-free and compiled in collaboration between writers, Ashton and Tyler Pacholski]
The Korean auteur Joon-ho Bong has found a new host with his latest film, Parasite. With a decadent recipe for films that tackle socio-economic issues of class (e.g. his dystopian feature, Snowpiercer), Bong delivers a modern-day parable that really festers inside its viewers. By being his most grounded work to date, devoid of imaginative creatures (e.g. the wonderfully created Okja), Parasite is filled with authentic people dealing with real problems, fears, and ambitions. I haven’t seen and experienced a film in a long time that allowed me to feel empathy for both sides of the economic spectrum. An eclectic tapestry of emotions, tones, and visuals, Parasite transcends the notion of genre to become something else entirely: a beautiful singularity.
The story follows the family of Mr. Kim, patriarch to clever con-artists, set upon a mission to exit their impoverished plain and find a new habitat. With eyes locked on the gullible and rich Park family, the Kims meticulously infiltrate and integrate themselves in the Park’s inner circle of help; through a series of wonderfully orchestrated events, viewers will relish at the execution of their “long con.” With their operation in full swing, the humor of the job begins to take a dark turn, and it’s in this tonal shift of circumstance and mood that the true genius of the film shines.
With Parasite, it’s the metaphorical nature, lively characters, and original narrative that will have its viewers coming back for seconds. Deeply layered, nuanced, and complex, the film is a technical masterpiece that offers a smart and entertaining look into the realities of class division with gushing gusto. Channeling the grand tragedies of Shakespeare, this familial tragedy infects the pathos of its audience, balancing their emotions in a way only a master storyteller could. And with that, Bong provides a stage so brilliantly and intentionally decorated that it had me taken aback several times by its thematic resonance.
Winner of the 2019 Palme D’Or, it’s no surprise that Parasite is one of the very best films of the year. As I walked out from my viewing of the film at the Tallgrass Film Festival earlier this fall, I hadn’t the slightest idea of how much I would be blown away by its effect. To infect my mind with creative inspiration I have been ruminating over ever since my initial viewing, the film finds its hook and raises the temperature to boiling heights. With Parasite, Joon-ho Bong has found a new host in us all. Not just as future storytellers and purveyors of thought, but as a species for the future.
Parasite is rated R for language, some violence, and sexual content.