Korean auteur Bong Joon Ho is back with his seventh feature in Oscar contender Parasite, a film that perfectly sums up the director’s genre bending career to date. There’s no way you can pigeonhole this festival hit into a certain category; it’s a sublime mix of dark comedy laced with social and class commentary, with a delightful sprinkle of thriller elements thrown in for good measure. The best way to experience this film really is going in as blind as possible – so if you haven’t seen it yet, please do stop reading and visit your local cinema for a watch, you won’t be disappointed!
Parasite is rather Shakespearian in it’s tale of two families approach; opening with central family the Kims in their “semi-basement” apartment trying to find the right spot to get onto their neighbour’s wi-fi and leaving their windows open to allow street fumigation to kill their own bugs. The down on their luck family find themselves in an opportune situation however, as son Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) is offered the chance to tutor the daughter of the rich and privileged Park family – providing a way in for the rest of the family through hatching an ingenious plan, worming themselves into the fold.
What ensues is a darkly comic machiavellian scheme to overthrow the current help in order for the rest of the Kim family to infiltrate employment with the Parks. To say anything else would be doing a disservice to the bonkers twists and turns of the completely unpredictable narrative. I literally had no idea where this film was going, particularly in the third act, which kept me engaged and gripped throughout. Parasite is such a unique tale thanks to the many themes explored and genre elements featured (and also subverted); it’s a delicious and original concept that’s hilariously entertaining, whilst simultaneously proving a sharp socio-economic commentary on the wealth disparity in Korea.
The fantastic script from Bong Joon Ho and Jin Won Han is brought to life by brilliant performances across the board, particularly from Song Kang-ho, Chang Hyae-jin, Choi Woo-shik and Park So-dam. The Kim family are opportunistic and desperate people who do some truly awful things, but somehow you still find yourself rooting for them. Maybe that’s because they’re just doing what they can to survive from their squalid and often sewage flooded apartment. The rich Park family seem nice enough, but Mr Park’s (Lee Sun-kyun) obnoxious remarks about poor people’s smell from the subway and they’re over-reliance on house servants doesn’t quite sit with you. It’s a modern day Downtown Abbey-style upstairs downstairs moral quandary.
Parasite is a completely gripping and utterly entertaining masterpiece in which writer-director Bong Joon Ho has poured all his craft and vision into. This films paves the way for foreign films in the awards ceremonies and generally deserves all of the accolades – how great an upset would it be if this takes the win from Joker at this year’s Oscar awards.