Parasite ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

I like the film being called a satirical suspense thriller as Parasite covers a range of genres in all its ingenuity. Bong’s detailed and elegant writing is incredibly rich.

Its a tale of two families at opposite ends of the socio-economic spectrum. An unemployed family plan to finance themselves off a disillusioned Park family, who rely upon the help to keep up their lavish lifestyle. After the son is given the opportunity to gaze upon the Park family’s lifestyle, the united Kim family seize the opportunity for them all to reap the benefits of the rich. The usual joy of watching a con film settles in, as piece by piece (handkerchiefs and peaches) they integrate themselves into the upper classes’ world. Despite the deceit of the Kim family, their united front and desperation exempts them as villains, as they live in structures that force them into self-interest. All characters are unsympathetic at moments, we disapprove of the careless mess the Kims create drinking and eating in the living room. The conning of the Park family is filmed removed and cold, almost no sympathy for anyone. 

The Park’s house is minimal and an architectural wonder, with large glass windows and a unnaturally green lawn. The luxury and order directly contrasts to the Kim’s clutter in their semi-apartment, glum in poverty with bug infestations. The cinematography draws attention to the social divide, reminiscent of the North and South divide in Korea, as the Parks house is situated on a hill and is entered walking upstairs, while Kim’s apartment is below street level. 

The relationship between the Kims and Parks are fragile in their social divide, the secrets and differing lifestyles which bought them together begin to threaten their transactional relationship. Mr Park dismays at the unsavoury smell Mr Kim developed from using public transport. The viewer observes the father, who when entering into the super rich feels small and inferior, leading to bitter and vengeful conclusions. The wealthy don’t just disdain the poor but treat them as filth. Bong uses rhythms and pace to highlight his chosen themes with such care that there is no mystery of its intention. Despite the social commentary, Parasite remains a suspenseful and insanely entertaining film.

Parasite opens showing the intimacy of the Kims which developed from living in close quarters and their unemployment, leaving them with only each other. Bong reveals the misconception of wealth and happiness, as Mr Park confides in his car that his wife and himself ‘call it love’. The rich are more obnoxious and presented as clueless, their wealth does not equate to happiness or knowledge.

Shocking narrative development turn the ‘home invaders’ on their heads. Bong leads an unpredictable plot into rainy slums and the climax of a nightmarish garden party.  The narrative proceeds like clockwork while never feeling mechanical.The underground bunker is almost supernatural, as we imagine a man living underground while the ignorant owners sleep above. The two lower class families choose not to usurp their oppressors but fight each other. The characters are desperate from the insecurity of loosing what they have gained, the very nature of human living- fear. Bong explores ideas of class consciousness asking us to interpret it for ourselves, he presents the grand metaphor of how are lives work and how we are largely unaware of it. 

The ending is particularly sombre as we are first given a glimpse of hope for the reunion of the Kim family however, Bong ends on bleak prospects, the camera draws back to the squalid living which is so far from the rich where the father now remains hidden.