Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd:
Criterion Collection Spine #1054
(Foreign language film - Korean)
Taking advantage of the susceptibility of the rich can be a lucrative affair, maybe even downright parasitical.
“You can't go wrong with no plans. We don't need to make a plan for anything. It doesn't matter what will happen next. Even if the country gets destroyed or sold out, nobody cares. Got it?”
There have been a few films recently when I noted it would have been nice to have more of a handle of the plot going in, but Parasite is not one of those films! This Palme d'Or winning domestic thriller from Writer and Director Joon-ho Bong takes its time getting the story setup, but after that point this crazy twisty ride goes into overdrive. And it was an absolute delight to see how it all played out. This is the kind of movie that hits my cinematic sweet spot with its thought provoking thematic subtext, stunning shot composition, and a gut-punch of violence that you never see coming.
Parasite is about a close knit low-income Korean family who lives together in a city apartment. Right from the opening we get a sense that their very bright despite their financial situation, as they wander around their home looking for a spot to login into some open Wifi. The son then gets recommended to take on tutoring job for the wealthy Park family.
Seeing this is a good setup, he manages to talk his way into getting his sister hired as well without revealing they are siblings. Then before you know it as a result of some malicious scheming, the whole family gets hired to work various jobs for them. But then on a dark and stormy night, they come to find out they are not the first ones to notice the perks of working for the Park family.
I hope Parasite is nominated at the Oscars for more than just Best foreign language film, because it is easily one of the best films I have seen this year. And if you typically don't watch foreign language films, I would recommend giving this one a chance because it is simple to follow and still packs a punch.
On that dark and stormy the family gathers together for a celebration of their conquest when the Park's are on a camping trip. That's when they hear an unexpected knock at the door. They find out it's the old housekeeper who they managed to get fired by making it look like she was very ill. Come to find out she needs to get back in the house, because her husband who owes debts is living in the house's hidden basement. Before long this couple figures out what the family is trying to pull and wants to expose them. Meantime we find out that the Park family is just moments away from getting home since their camping trip rained out.
From this point Parasite had the feel of a very unique home invasion movie, as the family works to silence the couple and not be discovered along with the big mess they made. This leads to some very tense moments which leave you holding your breath to see if they can manage to get out of there without being noticed.
Some more quick hit takeaways from Parasite:
- My favorite character is probably the father based on the pride he has for being an excellent chauffeur. But when he is hiding in the house he finds out while his employer is speaking candidly to his wife that he actually thinks the father smells bad (like bad radishes). This totally crushes the father's confidence, and really triggers him toward the end when he notices the father being bothered by his smell
- The little boy of the Park family is very funny with the observations he makes. He is a Cub Scout and it was cute how he insisted on still setting up his teepee style tent in the back yard to sleep, despite the rain. It is also neat how him being a Scout plays into the whole morse code element that plays in throughout
- Wow, that sirloin ramen snack looked good!
So in the end, the husband of the couple escapes the basement all bloody and starts going berserk. Then instead of the father helping, he ends up killing Mr. Park because of the whole smell thing he notices during the panic. The father is then able to escape by taking the man's place in the hidden basement.
Then we get one last surprise at the end when the son describes how he discovers his father's location via morse code from a porch light. We then get a scene where the son becomes wealthy and buys the house in order for his father to come out, and enjoy this wonderful home with him once again. But then it flashes right back to him in his same circumstance, showing that his vision of success was just a dream as he goes back to his reality.
Thanks for reading.
Happy movie watching ... SKOL!