director: Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer, The Host)
starring: Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Kang-ho Song, and Cho Yeo-jeong
REVIEWER: lyall carter
All unemployed, Ki-taek's family takes peculiar interest in the wealthy and glamorous Parks for their livelihood until they get entangled in an unexpected incident.
As a film reviewer its very rare to go into a film ‘cold’ with very little info and not seeing the trailer for the movie you’re about to see. The only thing I knew was that Parasite had won the Palme d’Or which is basically ‘Best Picture’ at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.
So my expectations were kinda elevated but tempered by the expectation that a film that wins the Palme D’Or could quite possibly be too ‘artsy’ for general cinematic consumption. But Parasite is a different kind of beast. It's completely accessible to any audience, its heartfelt, heartbreaking, and one hell of a movie. Its cinematic story telling at the highest heights.
Ki-taek's family of four is close, but fully unemployed, with a bleak future ahead of them. The son Ki-woo is recommended by his friend, a student at a prestigious university, for a well-paid tutoring job, spawning hopes of a regular income. Carrying the expectations of all his family, Ki-woo heads to the Park family home for an interview. Arriving at the house of Mr. Park, the owner of a global IT firm, Ki-woo meets Yeon-kyo, the beautiful young lady of the house. But following this first meeting between the two families, an unstoppable string of mishaps lies in wait.
Plot wise I can’t reveal much. Not only because director Bong Joon-ho has asked all reviewers not to reveal the narrative destination of the film, but because you should go into this not knowing what’s going to happen. Believe me; the pay off is truly worth it.
What I can say is that the narrative delivery is pretty much perfect and it moves at a great pace. Its inventive, sharp, funny, completely compelling; it's just a damn great story. Bong Joon-ho explicitly and implicitly deals with all manner of themes; family, generational poverty, fate, hatred, capitalism, and privilege.
But what you’re left with as you walk shellshocked from the cinema, is the absolute conviction that the human spirit is completely indomitable.
With a film like this, the cast could have been quite rightly tempted to conform to caricatures. But what we get instead are beautifully crafted performances that fool you into believing that instead of a film you’re witnessing the real lives of people unfold before you.
(South Korean with English subtitles)
Parasite is inventive, sharp, funny, and completely compelling. A cinematic masterpiece.