Christina Reynolds’s review published on Letterboxd:
𝑷𝒂𝒓𝒂𝒔𝒊𝒕𝒆: 𝑨𝒏 𝒐𝒓𝒈𝒂𝒏𝒊𝒔𝒎 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒍𝒊𝒗𝒆𝒔 𝒐𝒏 𝒐𝒓 𝒊𝒏 𝒂 𝒉𝒐𝒔𝒕 𝒐𝒓𝒈𝒂𝒏𝒊𝒔𝒎 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒈𝒆𝒕𝒔 𝒊𝒕𝒔 𝒇𝒐𝒐𝒅 𝒇𝒓𝒐𝒎 𝒐𝒓 𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒆𝒙𝒑𝒆𝒏𝒔𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒊𝒕𝒔 𝒉𝒐𝒔𝒕.
Parasite is a 2019 South Korean black comedy thriller film directed by Bong Joon-ho, who co-wrote the screenplay with Han Jin-won. The film, starring Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Jang Hye-jin, and Lee Jung-eun, follows a poor family who scheme to become employed by a wealthy family and infiltrate their household by posing as unrelated, highly qualified individuals.
To begin with I want to give more of a heads up than anything else for my followers who can empathize when I say: foreign films can be conceptually intimidating.
I've never been very good at giving a movie in my full intention (This applies to even the ones that I like. I know. Shame on me.).
That said: Joon-ho’s Adoration for he Coen Brothers is in full effect here with ‘Parasite’ being filled with exceptionally heavy dialogue. What's important to note, however, is that this isn't to a detriment, and is instead 𝒓𝒆𝒒𝒖𝒊𝒓𝒆𝒅 to escort viewers through a maze of tonal shifts and significant points of Discord or chaos.
If I might indulge I would say that it is difficult to neglect commenting on the pacing and which ‘Parasite’s exposition is developed. Conflicts and their subsequent solutions emerge inconsistently and at times makes the narration seem mildly distracted by the bigger purpose it obviously has in mind. A large amount of deception must be fulfilled in order to force ‘Parasite’s hand, and as a consequence of this it becomes naturally filled with plot holes that are not easily filled or ignored outright. This is only excavated by the extent in which some overwhelming convenience and detached coincidences are used to carry much of ‘Parasite’ through its first half. Regardless, expertly crafted tension makes this one point that is easily forgiven and temporarily stifles this complaint.
What might come as a surprise to viewers is that Joon-ho originally conceptualized ‘Parasite’ as a play; with a clear understanding of the advantage specific vantage points can play in addition to the intricate set design the chance to make this a feature film is seamlessly unparalleled. Voyurist motifs are integrated as a way of instigating a “predator versus prey” dynamic between the Kim and park family with certain features (like stairs) literally elevating the sharp contrast between the complacently wealthy and the begrudgingly impoverished. Equal parts forthcoming and mysterious: Hong Kyung-pyo executes Joon-ho’s vision with the use of visual disparities that are endlessly stunning.
(Fun fact: The set design of the affluent Park family house was made completely from scratch in addition to the view of the environment just immediately outside of the Kim’s family home).
I have yet to know if any film has claimed an official monopoly on plot twists - but if so ‘Parasite’ is a more than worthy contender. From the first moment of climatic surprise Joon-ho and Jin-won put their foot on the accelerator with no intention of laying off of the metaphorical gas that keeps viewers guessing. This isn't just to say that some conclusions are completely unexpected - because in hindsight some seem unavoidable in the grander context - but the delivery throughout remains hauntingly engaging. Over time its viewers become a piñata with ‘Parasite’ acting as a fustigating stick: with each of its devastating blows any sense of optimism (and quite literally some jaws) are forced into a state of submission that mimics the ground underneath them.
Ushered along by a class act of ‘Chameleon-aires’: ‘Parasite’ transcends above what would otherwise be mundane and monotonous commentary as it relates to fiscal and social stratification. Taking away ( but not completely removing) avenues of sympathy while remaining ambiguously hopeful - the gaps between what someone is, what someone aspires to be, and what someone is capable of a coming are violently exploited, meticulously explored, and proficiently examined.
An archaic reminder transformed by an excess of cruel originality: ‘Parasite’ stresses the importance of being careful what you wish for... because in the end you just might get it (and more).
I would recommend.
Side note: In watching this my 'favorite first watch of 2021' has been officially dethroned.