Andrew W.’s review published on Letterboxd:
Recently buoyed by its runaway success at the Academy Awards, Bong Joon-Ho’s film Parasite seems to be enjoying a wider commercial release in theatres; that more than likely being the case, I decided to make a day of it and go to the movies after work, initially opting to watch the horror revisioning of Fantasy Island and this. As luck would have it, my debit card wouldn’t work with the theatre’s computer, so plan B formed: drive 15 minutes farther south and wait an hour to catch another screening of Parasite at another theatre. Sorry folks, y’all ain’t gonna get to read a literary masterclass of a review for Fantasy Island, and have to settle for this instead... now what did this film say about plans?
By now, most, if not all of you basically know the plot to the film, so I’ll dispense with that portion of exposition and move along. It’s true that this film opens up little by little and reveal deft layers of commentary upon watching it again, and it’s fun to piece together comments and viewpoints from the characters at the beginning of the film being either proven correct at the end or totally flipped on their respective heads. It’s also tantalizing and fantastic to notice upon a second watching how the film creates nigh-flawless vessels with the characters and settings to demonstrate, whether explicitly, implicitly and even metaphorically, the disparity and divide between social strata, the class commentary that provides the backbone for this film; the Kims living in a semi-basement apartment while the Parks live in what is basically a walled off sanctuary situated on a hillside, of Kim Ki-Jung forging her brother a visually perfect college document and then later in the film Kim Ki-Taek’s comments about how an opening for a security guard position would garner ~500 college graduate applicants; of Mr. Park’s innocent repulsion of the smell unwittingly emanating from the Kim family; even the segment where the Kim’s sneak out of the Park household and go back home, of showing how far down they have to go to get there, all these scenes exceed normal cinematic intent of showing instead of explaining and really drives home the points that Bong Joon-Ho is trying to make here.
The acting is brilliantly understated throughout and sharply focused, with the actors and actresses embodying these messages from Bong and bringing them to life; Song Kang-Ho turns in probably the best performance I’ve seen from him yet, and everyone else is pitch perfect for and in their respective roles. The cinematography is gorgeous to look at, with 1-2 shots that are perfectly framed and captured for every one “normal” shot. The music from Jong Jae-Il is understated and supple, never overbearing and always ready to complement the action transpiring, and the direction is perfect. I love how restrained Director Bong keeps the film, never losing focus of the overarching narrative while adding in quirks and warm touches, humanizing the characters and maximizing our potential sympathy towards them and their individual plights. I absolutely love how ambiguous the script was crafted, with nobody being inherently “good” or “evil”, no villain and no hero; written the way it is, everyone here is a little bit of both, making them less of a creation and more human....
I could go on and on about this film, such is my appreciation and exuberance for it. To be honest, this has probably been the best cinematic experience I had all last year, and that’s coming from someone who can enjoy (almost!!!) any film or at the very least find some redeeming quality in it. I refuse to acknowledge Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever though....
One last thing, and this to my friend and fellow cinephile Andrew C. — I saw a cat in here, in the beginning when they’re talking to the pizza lady.