Parasite ★★★★★

- “It’s a chimpanzee, right?”
- “A self portrait.”

James Joyce once said that if all of Dublin was destroyed overnight, it could be recreated through his book, Dubliners. The short stories are paralytic in their appeal, and suffocating to read – in a way that only the truth can be, it is obscene. This is how I felt watching Parasite, but its reality was not limited to a city. It was a mirror shining against the wound of the world, and it looked infected. These are not people. They’re ventriloquist puppets.

The first thing I do each morning is look in the mirror – call it vanity, call it conditioning. A few hours ago I looked back at my reflection. My skin had cleared up, my hair looked curlier than usual – I felt alive in the absence of sleep. It was only when I turned my head at an angle to wash my face that I noticed a red bruise on my eyeball, as if my blue pupil had started to leak onto porcelain. A blood vessel had burst, and I was too distracted by my red hair to notice. This is the way that Parasite creeps up on you, like quick-gold, blood slipping down marble stepping-stones. The scenery is beautiful, and the situation unique – especially for London chain cinemas – but the cord is cut before you can feel at ease, and soon, wounds are cut deep.

Blood is hardly a difficult find in Oscar films – Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood likely spent more money on their ketchup and corn sugar budget than they did on Margot Robbie’s salary, but it’s made emblematic under Bong Joon-Ho’s touch. Fake blood is a catalyst in the form of a hot-sauce packet. Without this finishing touch, the lives of these characters wouldn’t be iconoclasts, but rather people living the middle-class, fool-proof American dream. Their lives begin and end, metaphorically , with blood. We live by the sword as we die by it, and that is the story I explored during the two hours I sat in that theatre. When real blood is spilled, I was cast into an uncanny valley – in the Park’s residence, drug addicts and Madonnas are just two sides of the same coin – Mr. Park tells his chauffeur that what he feels for his wife is that – “we’ll call it love”. No one can tell what’s real until it’s put to mortal stakes, and real people die over superficiality: real love is tested over sacrifice and hiding.

To be controlled by the tides is something we will never admit to, but we all are. The lives of Ki-taek’s family are decided on the roll of the devil’s dice when rains hit and their home is flooded. It was at the end of the film, however, when it hit home just how much we are victim to an external, impenetrable force, and it came in the form of when Ki-yung was hurt by the man living underneath the underground. She tells her father to stop pushing on the wound – that it makes it hurt worse. She knows she’ll be swept away with the waves of change, because the world has to propel itself parallel again. She has turned the tides of one family, and now hers must also be altered. Like a boat, for it to be ship-shape, all pressure must be balanced.

I wondered the ‘chain of being’ as I watched Ki-yung lounge in a lion-footed bath, whether she really did fit in there. Her mother says proudly closer to the beginning of the film that she’d have made an excellent con artist, but she is alone when she is relaxing, as well as when she lights up the Lucky Strike as her toilet spews tar. Where does a girl with a mind as vast as a canyon and a third eye as wide as a gulf belong? To nature? To a rich husband? To herself? Perhaps we were meant to learn that nobody belongs where they think they do. We win the life we’re born into not on how good we are, or how much we try to fit in, but simply that we never deserve the deck of cards we’re shuffled into. People are not stacks of coins, or cigarette filters, or plans to be made. The only thing that bonds people together is their victimhood, and it is the one thing we want to leave behind us and yet, can never hope to.

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