Where do I even begin with this film? Parasite is entertaining yet intelligent, intense yet hilarious, and above all, totally inventive.
Director Bong Joon-ho has said that the less one knows about the plot, the better. I happen to agree, and will therefore honour and echo his sentiment by simply describing this film as follows: a darkly comedic satire/thriller on class and social inequality, involving two families from opposite ends of the wealth spectrum, whose paths become uniquely intertwined.
From the very beginning, the film moves at a calculated pace, carefully setting up various key plot points. Thanks to perfectly timed editing, the film is flawlessly paced, giving the plot a continuous sense of momentum. When it threatens to become slightly repetitive, it reinvents its presentation of similar events, ensuring the viewer is consistently invested. The narrative then takes totally unexpected directions, becoming one of the most original and unpredictable films I have ever seen.
Bong is undeniably a master in juggling multiple tones. His script manages to balance sardonic comedy with nail-biting intensity in a way that feels organic, purposeful, and narratively coherent. This importantly allows for the film’s critique of class, classism and capitalism to be maximally effective. As an obvious example, the prejudice towards lower-class citizens held by the wealthy elites results in moments of both laugh-out-loud comedy, as well as scenes of major tension between characters.
Yet the message never overstays its welcome, nor is it the only thing the film has going for it. Equally a thought-provoking piece of art, Parasite is also highly entertaining, thanks in part to witty and well-timed dialogue. Not many films can boast to appeal to both the masses and more critical viewers of cinema, but Parasite wears this like a badge of honour.
Visually, the film is a joy to watch. There is some truly impressive production design that helps illustrate the film’s various ideas, and every location feels just as much a character as the people in it. Speaking of which, the entire cast gives fantastic performances. However, it’s Park So-dam’s absorbing performance as the daughter in the lower-class family that I found most memorable, with her dry sarcasm and personality outshining dominating every scene in which she features.
I luckily managed to see Parasite before its historic Academy Award for Best Picture, and I’m so glad I did. Viewing it through a much more objective lens allowed me to experience the film in its purest form. Walking out, I genuinely felt that the film had changed my perception of the world. Not many films manage to accomplish this, so the fact that Parasite did cements it as a masterpiece in my eyes; it is sure to become a future modern classic.
Image: Kinocine PARKJEAHWAN4wiki via Wikipedia