Parasite ★★★★★

I think the reason it's taken me so long to watch Parasite was out of fear. Specifically, fear that a film so revered and beloved by nearly everyone would end up disappointing me. What if my expectations were to become so high that the end product just wouldn’t be satisfying? But I finally said, ‘enough is enough’, sat down, and watched the whole thing. And after finally seeing this, it is certainly worth all the hype and then some. I don’t think I’ve seen a film so dedicated in its vision deliver an experience unlike any other. Nearly every element of the film combines to make a near perfect experience meant to denounce the societal constructs of class and capitalism. 

The story centers around the impoverished Kim family slowly forming what can be seen as a symbiotic (or even parasitic) relationship with the rich Park family. The Kim family members start to take positions within the Park household, whether by forging documents or forcing others out of their position. The first part of this film plays out like a high-stakes heist, with the character’s plan slowly falling into place. It’s incredibly satisfying to watch them cheat the system and try their best to attain a more suitable lifestyle.

Unfortunately, their plan doesn’t quite pan out. This relationship they’ve fostered can’t last forever, and it slowly starts to topple as the film progresses. The system keeps pushing them away from the finish line, away from their ideal lives. No matter what they do, the Kim family is cursed to live down under the rich, both figuratively and literally. It’s emblematic of a vicious cycle, where social mobility is much more myth than reality. The way this film shows us this harsh reality through its visuals and its story is awe-inspiring.

At the center of it all, we have the two sets of families. The Kim family is an absolute blast to watch. They just seem to revel in their deception and schemes. Seeing their plans come together is incredibly engaging, and seeing them comment on it later is just as good. The way they are able to manipulate the naive Park family is insanely clever. The Park family also works great in this film as an exploration of the upper class lifestyles. They are so concerned about their own good that they go to ridiculous lengths in order to feel safe in their house. But at the end of the day, they aren’t really villains in a sense. Nothing in this film is as black and white as that. The Parks are instead framed as antagonists, not because they directly harm the main characters, but because they benefit from a system that pushes the main characters down. These characters are brought to life with incredible performances, with not a single weak one.

One of the most impressive aspects of Parasite is no doubt it's brilliant set design. The film mostly takes place within the Park’s mansion, and the way the characters move around and use the environment makes for some thrilling scenes. Like the best films do with their locations, this film allows you to be able to map out this house by the end of it, because it's such an integral part of the experience. The architecture itself is also expertly designed, and feels believable, despite the extravagant nature of it all.

The technical aspects of this film also manage to astound. The orchestral score fuels the emotions of nearly every scene. It knows when to ramp up during tense situations, and it knows when to be subdued. And of course, the cinematography is top notch. Everything is framed in such a unique way that it only serves to bolster the story and characters. This film is never dull to look at. Even when what the characters are doing isn’t the most interesting, the way it's all filmed makes it engaging.

I’m honestly a little upset with myself that I didn’t check this out sooner. Parasite is such a masterpiece that not even the Academy could deny its brilliance. It tells a beautiful gripping story that manages to convey relevant commentary and themes about the current state of the world order, and those who benefit from it, and those who are screwed over by it. I’m so glad that this film has broken the barrier and has allowed mainstream audiences to finally engage with foreign cinema. I can only hope that more films can manage to push the envelope even further. But for now, Parasite stands as a shining example of a near perfect film experience, one that nearly everyone should see.

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