James’s review published on Letterboxd:
South Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho continues to be an indefinable force of nature in modern world cinema, his films are elegantly constructed social parables passed off as exciting genre pictures—but with the Palme d'Or winning Parasite he defies all categorisation, except perhaps as an unrivaled genius of his field.
What struck me almost immediately is the incredible momentum by which the story is told, after a brief establishing of characters and their situation we're thrust straight into what feels like an actless, structureless vortex of ever increasing madness. You can see the influence of Kim Ki-young's seminal 1960 masterpiece The Housemaid both in the way these people speak and act impulsively as well as similarities in narrative, but make no mistake this is an extraordinarily original work, one that starts off as a lighthearted satirical family comedy before shifting gears into a savage morality tale and a denunciation of class struggle, delivered with the ferocity of Michael Haneke.
Bong really puts us through the wringer with this one—every time there's a twist or a turn the proliferating weight of the whole thing threatens to crash down and fizzle out, but such is Bong's total command of his craft that it never does and by the time the credits roll you have the fight the urge to hit play again. The ever present social commentary is truly damning, evolving into an incisive polemic on late stage capitalism, materialism, wealth inequality and our ignorance to the hidden suffering of our fellow man. For a career built on contrivance, the emotional veracity of his work is never dulled. Lives up to the enormous hype.