Todd Gaines’s review published on Letterboxd:
A person who relies on or exploits others and gives nothing in return.
So, who is the real parasite? The Kim Family? Who pretty much go all Shameless at the beginning, by chronic manipulation. Or, the Park Family? The wealthy family, without a hint of empathy, and total unawareness of anything or anyone, not in their same social class bubble? Yes, they pay the Kims, but they also exploit the hell out of them.
It probably is a mix of both, and kudos for Bong for telling one unforgettable story. The beginning is excellent, as the Kim Crew creeps into the lives of the Parks. The narrative keeps on flowing. You know something is going to give, but you can’t quite see what is coming in the surprising climax.
Is this Bong’s best? I don’t think so. But, I’m glad he is finally getting the attention he deserves. Social class structure is nothing new for Bong. From Memories of Murder to Snowpiercer, Bong has frequently explored this topic in obvious and not so very obvious forms.
One thing that got to me was the way Mr Park talked about how Mr Kim smelled. Especially, when he had no clue Mr Kim could hear him. What people say when they can’t be heard, is that when people show who they really are?Another powerful scene focuses on Mrs Park in a car, and Mr Kim realizing she can smell the “poor” on him. Powerful cinema from Bong and Kang-ho.
Parasite makes you think. That’s why I’m only giving it 4.5 stars on this first watch. I simply couldn’t digest everything I needed to. Of course, I look forward to revisiting it again. Should it win Best Picture? I wouldn’t be sad if it did, but I stopped caring about the Oscars a long time ago. If an Oscar nomination gets you to explore the work of Bong, then I can’t complain.
Parasite is definitely necessary viewing for every single person on planet Earth, or something close to that.