Parasite ★★★

So this is the movie everyone's been losing it over? Hmm. There's another 2019 release that covers similar terrain with more idiosyncrasy, provocation and personal feeling (I won't say which so as to avoid spoilery comparisons, but I'm sure you can guess). Others seem not to have been bothered by it but the tonal shift from the slippery satire of the first half to the sincerity of the second didn't work for me. A couple of characters make expected heel turns and the film finally embraces the class conflict promised by its premise, but it comes off as overly schematic; less a molotov cocktail waiting to ignite than a puzzle in which all the pieces politely fall into place at just the right time. Thank goodness for Song Kang-ho then, who supplies the film's pathos as the poor family's dopey patriarch. The rest of his family, however, "lack density and substance because their traits melt into an unexceptional blandness except when they stand out for derision," as Richard Brody wrote in his review.

Brody continues:

"There’s a ground state of simple normalcy, free of culture and free of substance and free of ideas, as if personality itself were a luxury; it’s the sort of benign condescension that working-class characters often receive in far worse films than “Parasite,” and that, no less than its elegant and creamy aesthetic, flatters the sophistication of its art-house audience. So, for that matter, does the underlying order that, despite the film’s obvious sympathies and valuable insights, Bong approaches with restraint and leaves largely unchallenged."

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