Parasite ★★★★★

Joining rarified air alongside La Grande Illusion (1937), Z (1969), The Emigrants (1971), Cries and Whispers (1972), Life is Beautiful (1997), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), Babel (2006), Amour (2012), and Roma (2018), Bong Joon-ho’s dark comedy thriller Parasite 기생충 (2019) is only the twelfth foreign language film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture (formerly the Academy Award for Outstanding Production).

Parasite (2019) is a difficult film for me to review because I found myself emotionally agitated by the viewing, a feeling that returns any time I think back on its content. This seems to be, at least in part, due to a dark, playful voyeurism, very reminiscent of Hitchcock, used as a bridge from the realistic to the absurd. 

The story, design, cinematography, and sound of this film intertwine in a subtle harmony that is difficult to articulate, especially without spoilers. What you should take away from this review is that Bong Joon-ho pulls off something that most art films cannot, and that is exceptionally well-made and entertaining film that does not have hide its weaknesses behind gimmicks. 

There are lot of opinions out there about who got “snubbed” this award season so I know this isn’t a commonly held opinion, but I think the Academy’s greatest miss this year is a failure to recognize the absolutely phenomenal performances by the cast of Parasite. I understand that there are no clear standouts within the acting group of Song Kang-ho, Jang Hye-jin, Choi Woo-shik, and Park So-dam or Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Jung Ji-so, and Jung Hyun-jun, but that isn’t an accident. It is the result of excellent characters, skillful acting, and onscreen chemistry. 

Born of cunning design and meticulous care, Bong Joon-ho’s final product, Parasite (2019), effortlessly passes between its sharply contrasting components in an almost indescribable manner that you need to see to believe.

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