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PARASITE gets 8.5/10 Gets under the skin


Directed by Bong Joon-ho

Starring Song Kang-ho, Park So-Dam, Jang Hye-jin, Choi Woo-shik

8.5/10

With a title like this, especially for a film about conniving invaders, Parasite may seem crudely on the nose, but this is a film where every ingenious and unpredictable piece of the plot just makes this brilliantly singular premise all the more riveting to witness.

The Kim family are unemployed and living in squalid conditions, near public urinators and pesticide distributions. With a little help and photoshopping skills from daughter, Ki-jung (Park So-Dam), who forges a college document, the son, Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik), manages to nab a tutoring job for the wealthy Park family, who is then followed soon after by another teaching job from his crafty sister.

Soon enough, through plenty of deception by the less fortunate at the expense of the less fortunate, father Kim Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho) and mother Choong Sook (Jang Hye-jin) have also co-opted a job for the family. There’s a cheeky sense of joy watching this poor family grift their way into employment by such a wealthy family, but that joy soon develops into thrills once they discover something lurking beneath this façade of wealth and servitude.

For a Cannes Film Festival first, this is so far the only time Asia has won two consecutive Palme d’Or prizes, with this South Korean film for 2019 and Japan’s Shoplifters for 2018. Both films are at their essence about family, but they almost couldn’t be any more tonally opposed. Shoplifters was grounded in drama and felt deeply for its family characters as they navigated carefully through moral ambiguities. Parasite, conversely, is more of a genre film, a comedy-thriller with a keen focus on incredible editing between the various layers of the story to get the audiences’ attention, and it certainly has more complicated feelings about this family and their own morally questionable actions.

It certainly takes its audience on a journey; first amusing them, then surprising them with its revelations, then luring them to its heart-stopping climax and finale scene, which posits a yearning for family stability in the most unusual way. If you think at any point you have Parasite figured out, you’re very likely wrong and are going to soon be very perplexed – this is both an entertaining and resonating piece of cinema.

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

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