Parasite ★★★★★

92nd Time's the Charm (6/9)

Going into Parasite I wasn't sure whether it would meet the high expectations that everyone else was promising and sustaining. Oh sure, if you factor in its Palme D'or win, the fact I gave Snowpiercer 5-stars without batting an eye, and the fact that it stands as the highest-rated thing period on this site, there's a lot of promise there. Knowing how stingy I can be in giving something as high an honor like a 5-star rating, a prestige a few others and I have discussed in terms of what it exactly means to give out 5 stars (a list you should check out and contribute to if you haven't already), there was definitely the hint that it might not reach this level of excellency everyone was sharing, as all around me behaved like the nicest, friendliest cult who are more concerned with sharing stellar arthouse films as opposed to the cult down the street that prefers latter-day Travolta flicks in the name of the God we all bow down to, I of course refer to Xenu, destroyer of life and wallets. Bizarre analogies and mild shade towards crazy people aside, surely this film would at least come close to what everyone was saying about it, right?

Bong Joon-ho, you son of a bitch, you DID IT AGAIN! YOU PROVED MY FEARS WRONG and ya made a MASTAPIECE!

The Kims, members of the struggling poor, swindle the elite rich Park family into hiring each of them one by one in order to survive their living conditions. Though at the heart the Kims are not bad people, as the film makes a point in showing how they look after each other even after their infiltration, the increasingly bad things they perform in order to ensure they can still maintain decent living slowly beat them down, as their quick path to success and thorough planning diverts through unintended interferences. Much like the metaphorical scholar rock, trying to quickly rise in the world without honest living creates dead weight, clinging and coming back until the inevitable burst of failure occurs, as the parasitic nature of these poor folks feed off the money and food of those higher-up with a self-centered approach and, in our patriarch Ki-taek's case, desire to not be associated with the grime and squalor of their class that forces his family to live in a sub-level apartment with frequent alley-pissers.

Then again, given the horribly flawed system of class divide that forces the poor to lose their minds in order to have a chance in success, is it any wonder that we feel sympathy for the Kims? The Parks, rich and well-off, live innocently and naively as a result of their luxury, sheltering them from anything broader than first-world problems and oblivious to the struggles and deceit of the Kims and like. To the Parks, the poor are simply cogs in their machines, dehumanized and never treated with care or sensitivity as the smell of poverty is met with disgust and scorn. To that end, the Parks also behave like parasites, sucking away the dignity of those who can't live as relaxed as them until they are treated as insignificant, improper human beings. In doing this we are shown the good and bad of each side of the social divide, nobody perfectly good and nobody perfectly evil. The true antagonist of the film is the bullshit system that proves needlessly unfair to the lower class, as both hunger and fall into the inherent greed that's forced to define both families for radically different reasons.

With such a pointed social critique on capitalism that has become recurrent in Bong's work, there is plenty more to Parasite that gives reason as to why it has become so acclaimed. It's thematic relevance is important, but it also manages to be incredibly accessible and a satisfyingly tragic whirlwind of emotions that could be greatly effective even without its nuance. A stellar tense and beautiful score by Jung Jae-il perfectly matches the thriller elements of the film, and it manages it actually juggle several types of moods and reactions without it ever feeling unnatural, as it shifts and turns like the rollercoaster it is. It goes without saying that Bong has plenty of tricks up his sleeves in terms of its unpredictable story and impeccable manic directing, and that this is a film that deserves to be remembered and beloved, as a sign of how to write and film a phenomenal script and how to understand the growing imbalance of poverty vs. wealth in not just South Korea, but countries all over the word. Here's to you, Bong, for your inevitable Best International Film Award, and for your continued streak of perfect scores from me (might as well just give you another one of those for Memories of Murder already, it'll be surprising if I don't).

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