Parasite (original title: Gisaengchung) is a 2019 Korean film directed by Bong Joon-ho (which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival) and it’s spectacular like all the movies directed by this man. End of the review, please go and see it. I could really end my review here since all I can do is praise this film in which I haven’t seen a single issue, I left the cinema stunned, I almost didn’t believe it: what a movie! And what is Parasite about?
It’s about a lot of things but above all, as the title says, about parasites. At the centre of the story there’s a family that lives in a basement invaded by cockroaches and with drunks who pee on their windows. The family is composed by father Kim Ki-taek (Kang-ho Song), mother Chung-sook (Hye-jin Jang), son Ki-woo (Woo-sik Choi), and daughter Ki-jeong (So-dam Park), all unemployed and trying to survive with temporary and poorly paid jobs (when they don’t try to use the neighbors’ wifi). One day, here comes a golden opportunity for Ki-woo: his friend Min-hyuk (Seo-joon Park) offers to replace him as the English teacher of the young daughter in a rich family. This is the beginning of a series of misfortunes and misdeeds so long that you won’t believe it: it’s surprising, tragic, and funny at the same time and I I have no intention of putting spoilers in this review in case you haven’t seen the movie. I will only say that it’s such an escalation that two hours seemed like ten minutes at the cinema!
But not only the plot is brilliant: there’s also a social commentary that is anything but banal! That had to be expected, the director is at ease with satire. Just think of his 2013 Hollywood incursion, Snowpiercer, another political and satyrical movie, even if pertaining to a completely different genre (science fiction, specifically).
Parasite is a comedy, a drama and a tragedy and its plot is an excuse to talk about society and its current division into classes that can be summarized with the simple but terrible rich / poor dichotomy. The movie illustrates the two parallel worlds in which these two classes live without ever touching each other, as entire groups of people are forced to live like parasites of others, thus creating a hatred that transversely pervades the whole society which is (mostly) peaceful only by chance. In fact, Bong Joon-ho seems to suggest that violence is the inevitable result of the contact between different social classes (which in the film is due to a series of fortuitous events), and that even within the same class the survival of the fittest is the only rule.
It’s cool to see how Kim Ki-taek’s family admires the wealthy family: they appreciate their values and, above all, their possessions, but at the same time they envy and despise them for their naivety and their racism (the smell of the poor is so different from that of the rich!). But how to blame these people? Kim Ki-taek and the rest of his family only try to survive in a society that offered them nothing, as did the servant (Jeong-eun Lee) of the family of Park Dong-ik (Sun-kyun Lee). At the same time, the latter is not a bad person, but despises (like everyone else) what he doesn’t know and perceives as different. The naivety of Park and his wife derives from not having had to fight to get what they have: everything has been easy for them, unlike for the others who even have to fear rain, given where they live!
In short, Parasite is a sublime movie where an imaginative script entertains, moves and makes the viewer think at the same time. The direction, the actors, the soundtrack (there’s even a vintage song by Gianni Morandi!), the cinematography… everything is perfect in this film that I can’t wait to watch again already! Ciao!
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