Parasite ★★★★½

Starts off as a jet black caper comedy, as one poor family cons their way into some naive rich family’s home. It’s pretty protected opening act before any real conflict sets in, but it sets up so many wonderful details that pay off marvelously over the next 80 minutes or so. Its cast of characters form a complex weave of personalities, constantly juggling the audience sympathies for their actions. The mansion, in which most of the movie takes place, is a marvelous bit of production design. It’s an ultra modernist construction, all hard edges and cement. The camera roams around, revealing new depths as the characters sneak around its symbolically loaded steps. Bongs staging regularly impresses, positioning characters in a variety of ways to express their status to each other.

It’s tempting to describe Parasite by its timely ideas about class and social hierarchy, with the homes various levels or its bountiful metaphors(there’s a Chekhov’s Gun introduced in the first act that goes off BIG time in the finale), but that runs the risk of making it sound didactic or preachy. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s actually an uproariously entertaining film, with extended sequences as funny or suspenseful as any set piece you’ll see all year. Its completely unpredictable, shifting gears and ideas as it barrels down to its conclusion, but it always remains true to the emotional authenticity of its characters.

Dramatically sound, thematically rich, completely original, and orchestrated by a master filmmaker in his prime, Parasite is the kind of movie you wish all movies could be when you sit down in the dark. If I see a better film all year, I’d be amazed.

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