This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
izzy’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
i moved my rating of parasite from a 4.5 (which now looking back was far too high and overzealous) to a borderline 3 because i have since come to realise a lot of its negative aspects. first off, it represents class divide in such an oversimplified, pandering way that purposefully doesn’t cause any massive political backlash from the upper-class nor make them uncomfortable (meaning it can definitely be up for awards during awards season, and we can see how that’s going) but comforts the lower/upper middle-class (not the actual poor for obvious reasons, they’re never a real demographic for the media) enough for them to consider it an accurate representation of class struggle and a rigged and abusive capitalistic system without actually doing any of the work of adding real heavy-hitting social commentary, replacing that with an awkward amount of fluffiness and misdirected lightheartedness that disregards the harsh reality people in these economic situations actually face.
seeing as many celebrities with tons of money have since come out saying they loved parasite, i can’t help but see that as a glaring issue and a failure in terms of what the film i assume was trying to accomplish. the film isn’t anti-capitalist, as in the film we see the kim family actually desire the life that they infiltrate, not seeing their actions as a 'fuck you' to an inherently broken system but as an opportunity to live in the park family’s shoes, to become the very thing they antagonise and seemingly dislike? at least that's what i thought, but maybe they were opportunistic assholes the entire time and i just didn't notice considering the fact that ki-woo promises his father that he'll buy the very home that represents the very system and class that we disagree with and don't support? it just seemed strange looking back and i don't know why that was a decision bong joon-ho decided to make.
there isn’t a clear nor defined connection between the kim family or the park family that really makes the message of the film all that straightforward or culturally present, only the vague one of one is rich and one is poor, and that they're kinda sheltered and ignorant. bong joon-ho doesn’t even fully try to make the kim family all that likeable, for example, the seemingly out-of-nowhere pedophilia storyline never gets addressed and it genuinely disgusted me to the point where i had a hard time getting back into the film.
the plot-twist of the film, rather than being politically poignant or significant plotwise, ends up feeling more like a pointless moment of shock, as the park family never get confronted by their own privilege, there isn’t a moment of realisation for anyone, and it felt rather empty and out of nowhere looking back. bong joon-ho’s decision to be vague and on the fence as to which family is the parasite was annoying as you could read the title as either family, he takes no real strong moral/political stance as both family’s make subjective decisions that never reflect the wider issue of capitalism and real systemic classism. when he does show something clearly anti-bourgeoisie (marxist theory bourgeoisie), it’s not explicit and obvious enough to the general viewer as one would have to be aware of the exploitative relationship between worker and employer, big business and the people left with very little to compensate. because of this, it’s hard to call this film a powerful portrayal of the struggle the working class have to go through, for we only see aesthetic glimpses of their life, things that don’t upset us but make us go ‘ah that’s funny, they can’t get wifi!’
it’s not as good as it once upon first viewing, and it has definitely soured over the past few months, but it’s still an okay film. it’s very well shot and it contains beautiful cinematography, it just doesn’t feel nearly as monumental, intellectually significant or politically influential as i once saw it to be.