maggie’s review published on Letterboxd:
edit: removed ratings, was posted at 2 1/2 stars
You see the rating, of course, and that will either immediately anger/annoy/outrage/bother/depress (whichever/whatever adjective is apt) or intrigue you, and to preface this: read it if you want. I don’t care. Criticism is valuable. Opinions are meaningless. I write opinions because I have nothing to do. I attach emotion to opinions because I have nothing else equally as fulfilling. So let’s all just calm down a bit. I am taking a second to not over excite myself, and why don’t you do the same. Ok? Ok!
So. Parasite. The newly crowned highest rated film on Letterboxd. Why? What is so exceptional, new and transcendent about this film? There have been numerous well-made (and more satisfying) films that deal with class, poverty and family dynamics. Even last year, there was a far superior Japanese Palme d’Or winning film that dealt in essentially all the same without the violence, and a Korean film, Burning, with a far more exemplary cinematic voice echoing similar themes.
While violence should feel natural in a film boiling with financial anxiety, all violence in Parasite is undeserved: it hinges entirely upon surprise. As someone who had the ending (the father murdering the patriarch of the wealthy family), I spent so much of my own viewing attempting to latch on to, or ascribe some sort of character to him: some spiral, some development and descent from his entire household’s slow con. However there is none. In no way do you know these characters, aside from minutest quirks and skills that are incorporated into their scheme. They are a family. In an unfortunate situation. Who better their situation. Then the father kills, runs, and leaves the dead daughter, widowed mother and comatose son in the dust. Yet all we know, is the father can drive, the mother can cook and clean, the son speaks English very well (and likes his student), and the daughter is crafty and cunning. What else are we left with?
This violent ending hinges entirely upon surprise. Therein lies my greatest criticism/issue with the film. I had heard from so many that you must “go in cold” to see Parasite. To not read ANYTHING about it, just watch it. What quality does a film have, you cannot know what happens for it to be enjoyable? How can a film such as that, hold up on multiple viewings, less so multiple years from now?
Parasite is not an atrocious film. It is not the landscape changing film some proclaim it is. However I find it atrocious how the public reveres such mediocrity with excellence. This is not an issue of opinion, it is an issue of continuing to challenge art: whereas Parasite challenges nothing. It is as superficial as superficial comes. You can love it, like it, whatever. But it is reckless and foolish to tout it as one of the greatest films ever made. Perpetuating the continued cycle of the bare minimum. It is a stereotype to respond to this sort of media buzz with “consume more art”, however, those are my parting words. Parasite is a passing fancy. If it remains a staple cinema excellence 20 years from now, and maintains its staying power, go ahead and rub it in my face (if the planet is still here).
And to close this review: I would like to add, that a character literally says the line, “this is so metaphorical”, several times in the film. If that’s not ham-fisted message screaming over quality filmmaking (not unlike best picture winner and truly atrocious monstrosity, Green Book) then I don’t know what is: I do know, that is is unconfident and lazy.
But what a lovely house.