You look at the title and think to yourself ‘Parasite, hmmm that name sounds familiar. Is it that mysterious film everyone has been raving about? The one that recently raked up a handful of Oscars?’ The answers to all of those would be yes and yes respectively.
The film has gained rave critical reviews helping to put its director Bong Joon-ho on the map. It is filmed in Korean and is classed as a ‘dark comedy/ thriller’. The trailer is admittedly quite vague, so it would be hard to judge from its content alone whether the film is a worthy watch.
Ultimately, it is at its heart, an unconventional commentary on social inequality in South Korea. The family at the heart of the film – The Kims – live in a basement flat, with all members unemployed apart from the odd jobs they get folding pizza boxes. The son, Ki-Woo aka ‘Kevin’ through a friend secures a tutoring job with a wealthy household; ‘The Parks’. The Parks are an upper-middle-class family who live a life of luxury in a slickly designed mansion and are the kind of family that seems to be so rich it doesn’t make sense. Over time as both the Kims and the Parks frequently interact with one another, we see that The Parks have little regard or care for the welfare of The Kims, their employees. This is something you slightly suspect throughout but becomes all too clear when the film reaches its terrifying climax during a garden party.
Similarly, we see The Parks are quite sheltered from the hardships of life all too familiar to the Kims. A literal image of the disconnect between classes within South Korean, or any country’s society; the two families technically live in one society but two completely different worlds. The film’s title is quite an ambiguous one with no clear meaning. Which family is the true parasite in this film? The Kims who exploit the Parks naivety and wealth or the Parks who basically depend on the Kims being poor in order to exploit them for labour and emotional support.
But it can also be seen as a tough reminder that life doesn’t always go to plan – no matter how hard you try to make it too. I love the family bond we witness between the Kims throughout most of the film. Despite the hard circumstances they live in they continue to crack jokes and be grateful for each other’s company. These are the feel-good moments in the film that make you laugh and smile; moments that are very much needed to balance out their dark and twisted counterparts.
What is truly amazing about Parasite is its slow descent into its craziness that happens before your eyes as you watch the film. As an audience member, you are lulled into the film due to the humorous and light tone the characters banter within the first hour. For me, the film’s downward spiral was very much unexpected. The genius lies in the fact it doesn’t necessarily happen with a bang but rather it’s a gradual as a series of unexpected events drive the plot forward.
Overall, Parasite is nothing short of a masterpiece. Yes, that is a very overused word in Hollywood but this film is a unicorn because of the mere fact it actually lives up to the hype around it. As someone who is a big fan of international dramas and films; I’m happy more non-Western films like this one are getting the recognition they deserve. The film industry doesn’t start and end with Hollywood or the West. It’s time for us to widen our lens and fully appreciate the amazing film talent the world as a whole has to offer.