Director: Bong Joon-Ho, Barunson E&A CJ Entertainment
Reviewed by: Jimin Seo
The modern era of film has greatly stagnated in the past decades; major companies such as Disney and Universal regularly spew gaudy reboots and unapologetic cash grabs that ultimately lead to movies devolving into a boring, homogenised commodity. Yet even in these creatively deprived times, there are occasionally cinematic gems that remind us of the true spirit of film. Parasite, directed by Bong Joon Ho, is the very definition of such a masterpiece. While the term ‘masterpiece’ is overused in this space, this film truly deserves the title. It cannot be emphasised enough – the film is truly revelatory, and must be seen to be believed.
Parasite is centered around the idea of class, the inevitable conflict between the poor and the rich, and the cut-throat capitalist system that creates and perpetuates these divides. However, it does not stumble under the weight of carrying such ambitious and lofty themes. Instead, Parasite nimbly weaves these themes into an impeccably tight-knit story in such a way that the ideas explored in these films feel totally fresh. The class struggle is symbolised in the dynamic that plays out between the Kim family, who live in a semi-underground basement in poverty, and the Park family, who live in a sleek mansion perched atop the elevated Soul suburbs. Those two locations alone are metaphors to the worlds of the Kims and the Parks; the elevated mansion shows wealth, impossibly distant and unattainable, while the half-below half-above dwelling of the Kim family shows their unique predicament, stuck in between the worlds of lack and excess. However, that is all that can be divulged about the setting of the film without dropping any spoilers – the less you know about this masterpiece, the better the film watching experience. The pace is light and exhilarating, and each time a member of the Kim family becomes employed by the clueless Parks, the dopamine hit that you feel is that of witnessing an artful heist.
However, that all changes in the second half, when the film takes a bloody dive into darkness. The tension in the film stretches ever tighter, and in the last moment of the last act, the elastic finally snaps in a moment of pure unrestrained chaos. Throughout it all, you can’t help but be impressed at how the film just works. You don’t feel preached at, nor does the satire feel too flighty – it is just right. There is a reason that this instant cult-classic won the Film D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and a reason that just about any film aficionado is obsessing over it; Parasite is so impossibly relatable and so terrifyingly realistic. It thrills, yes, but its deeper message on class truly terrifies.
Watch the film, and when you come out, you’ll observe your own reality and think: “Isn’t is all so metaphorical?”
JIMIN SEO is a student in Auckland with a passion for writing prose and journalism. Hobbies primarily comprise of: hitting that diplomatic woah at MUN events, annoying friends about geopolitics, and binging on the Conan O’Brien show.
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