As the film faded to black and the credits took the screen, I knew what I had just watched was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Equal parts enthralling and exceptionally original, “Parasite” delivers on every single aspect imaginable from a film in just over two hours. Bong Joon-ho’s masterpiece takes the viewer on a visceral rollercoaster full of twists and genuinely shocking developments throughout its suspenseful narrative. The amazing direction coupled with extremely empathetic performances helped make this film downright spectacular. “Parasite” very well may have been one of the best movies released not only this year, but arguably this entire decade.
“Parasite” follows the Kim family, who are very poor and live in the slums of South Korea. Through a connection from his friend, Ki-Woo (the son in the Kim family) is given the opportunity of a lifetime when he is hired by the Park family as an English tutor for their daughter. The Park’s extreme wealth leads Ki-Woo to devise a plan to further profit off of them as he plots to get his own family into the mix. Gradually, Ki-Woo and the rest of the Kim family infiltrate the home of the Parks under the guise of being valuable workers. While their scheme to financially feed off of the Park family and integrate themselves amongst them begins, things quickly go awry for the Kims.
“Parasite” is truly a unique movie in every which way. The camera work is phenomenal, the writing is superb, and the acting is award-worthy. Underlying the entire narrative is a tense and unnerving commentary on social class and the disparity between the rich and the poor. This film truly lingers with you, as even days after watching it I still went back to the film in my head to reconsider what I had seen. This movie fully absorbs the viewer into the diegetic world of the film leaving its audience to ruminate over what they had watched.
Bong Joon-ho has released several pictures in the past, including 2013’s “Snowpiercer,” and 2017’s “Okja.” However, it is with “Parasite” that he truly breaks ground. Hailing from South Korea himself, this movie feels extremely personal to Joon-ho, as it seems to comment so much on aspects of South Korean culture and society. Beyond just that, the inspiration for the film actually came from his youth when he worked as a tutor for a rich family in Seoul. Although the movie takes place in South Korea and is completely in Korean, I really think that those intimidated by foreign-language films should give this movie a chance. Everything from its set design to its incredibly well-crafted story makes it wholly worthwhile to watch. The subtitles do not take away from the film at all, and might even result in being constructive, as you may pay further attention to what is unfolding on the screen, which is so important in a movie like “Parasite”; you don’t want to miss a single word.
Where this movie truly succeeds is in playing with our sensibilities as humans. The lines between what is right and what is wrong are often blurred, and leave us to question what exactly is moral and who should be vilified. Furthermore, the suspense in “Parasite” is so wonderfully incorporated into the plot that I found myself literally on the edge of my seat a number of times and fighting the urge to cover my eyes more than once.
“Parasite” exists in a cinematic league of its own. It has the elements of so many genres, including but not limited to: thriller, drama, comedy, horror, and tragedy. Although I want so badly to choose a genre to define this film, “Parasite” simply evades this sort of traditional categorization as it so far surpasses conventional film groupings. This movie switches tonal gears so seamlessly that it pulls numerous total atmospheric transitions without ever jarring the viewer. It was effectively as though I were watching several movies in one.
Very often, foreign-language films do not get the respect or spectatorship they deserve in America due to the way Hollywood has a hold on the film industry. But foreign-language films allow us to see something different and hear voices that we may not otherwise get to listen to. That is not to say that the superhero movies we flock to the theaters to see are bad, but just that sometimes a bit of a change is good, and can open up our sensibilities and feelings to entirely new perspectives. If “Parasite” is playing in a theater near you, I urge you to give it a chance; you may just end up finding your favorite film of the year, as I did.
Cover Photo: IMDB