Parasite ★★★★½

Parasite is, in no uncertain terms, fucking great. It's funny and suspenseful and deeply powerful. It's genuinely creative and unpredictable in a way that we don't often see, and it has an acute understanding of the physical and emotional boundaries of social class. More than anything, it is at its core concerned with human beings, specifically families, and the ways in which they navigate, construct, and even break down those boundaries. Empathy is of the utmost importance in this story.

It's quite remarkable how Bong Joon Ho manages to walk a tightrope of tonal shifts so effortlessly that they don't even really feel like shifts - the film is uniquely its own thing, and many things at once. The story flows pretty seamlessly, moving from humanist family drama to biting social satire to surreal horror. There are twists and turns galore, but rarely does the film ever feel convoluted - there is a clear and forceful guiding purpose behind the camera, and it shows. The dialogue is incredibly smart and the entire ensemble is brilliant, but the most beautiful work is perhaps done through the visual language. Every single frame tells you exactly what you need to know while pulling you in to look for more - the stunning production design behind the sleek, clinical nature of one home and the cramped, gritty nature of the other sets up a playpen of contrasts for the actors and the script.

These contrasts seem easy to delineate, but Bong makes the entire situation as difficult on himself as humanly possible (in a good way, of course). It would be easy to lean into a singular message or a particular genre or a specific tone, but Bong wants his film to be like his characters: messy, complicated, compelling in its own, unique way. It's a controlled madness driven by both technical mastery and an aching pain regarding the inequalities that drive our perspectives, actions, relationships with others, and emotional well beings. It's genuinely a wonderful film, and you're not going to see much else like it out there.

GRADE: A-

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