Parasite ★★★★½

As incredible as the plot is around it, I think this movie is really striking a chord with American audiences because of how, despite being a South Korean movie, it speaks to an issue that impacts the very fabric of our society. Whereas you can argue that Roma failed to win Best Picture at the Oscars because it wasn't relevant enough to voters, I have trouble finding much reason not to love Bong Joon-Ho's incredible film that is easily his best film and reminds me that movies can be this original and provocative. I may have understood it thematically, but boy was that a fun ride of trying to guess where things were going and only getting halfway there.

If I had to guess, the film is a social commentary on the cultural impact of the gig economy. It's easy to see the family as a desperate jack of all trades, folding pizza boxes and faking disorder diagnoses to make an extra buck. They only seem toxic in that they're dismantling the working class (the more traditional 9-5 types if you will) to better their causes by handicapping their health and reputation. It's a sadistic cycle, though it's even more unnerving to see how it drives both parties mad while the upper class that pays them without a care. Their child runs rampant and there is no care for what happens outside of their bubble. The house's ability to serve as its own commentary on how certain aspects are "swept under the rug" or ignored only makes this film more delightful for the symbolism hunter willing to look for it.

While I wish that I could understand the North Korea references as more than "Kim Jong-Un: Bad," I do appreciate the bizarre decision to reflect on American Indians, who were marginalized by a class deemed superior and whose culture was appropriated without a deeper understanding of meaning. I think that teepee in the yard perfectly embodies how much the upper class fails to understand their actions. I don't know if South Korea sees Native Americans differently, but it's pretty biting if you know your history.

In a year that I haven't felt strongly about too many movies, I loved experiencing this movie and having it live up to the praise. It's more than rich with symbolism, it's also entertaining in its criticism. I can't think of another film this year that's worked as well as this, and I'm sure this film's commentary on economics and how it can tear people apart will only become more appreciated with time. It's your move, Oscar. Don't blow it. Make this a Best Picture nominee. Nothing from America (so far) has come close to being this vital.

Thomas liked these reviews