Parasite ★★★★★

Parasite: The Verticality of Class

Throughout Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, there is a recurring theme of “moving up” in the world. This is obvious in the way the film tackles class divisions in the plot and dialogue, but less so in the way the film portrays these themes in the structure of its environments. 

There’s a consistent through line of focus on upward mobility, which starts right as the film opens. We meet the Kim family, scrounging for free wifi in their semi-basement home, with only one window that allows them to see the bottom of the street they live on. Later, we meet the Park family, living in an almost utopian home, in which they’re hiring a member of the Kim family to tutor their daughter in English. It’s only after a torrential downpour, during which the bottom falls out of the Kims’ plan to infiltrate the Park family for gainful employment, that we realize the Park family’s home rests on a hill, a hill that leads down to the Kim family home. They run down from the house on the hill, designed by a famous architect to be as modern and lavish as possible, to their modest home below ground, which is flooded and borderline ruined. What was a minor inconvenience to the Park family’s camping trip runs down onto the Kims, almost completely taking what little they have.

Parasite is a film chock full of visual metaphors like this, but the way director Bong Joon-ho chooses to literalize the way in which one must “climb up” the proverbial ladder of class, only to oftentimes find themselves cast back to the bottom while those at the top are barely fazed, is to me, the film’s strongest and most powerful. This same metaphor perfectly ends the film as well, with the simple line saying that all the father of the Kim family must do is “walk up the stairs”, finally freeing himself of his self-made prison. It’s this kind of rich, rewarding, visual storytelling that has made Parasite one of the most beloved films of all time in a matter of months.

(Side note: I gotta stop bumping this down half a star a few months after I rewatch it. There’s stuff I keep forgetting in between watches, and every time it’s become fresh in my mind again, I remember that it’s fucking flawless)

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