I saw Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite a little less than a month ago. As soon as the credits started rolling I knew I had just watched a truly special film, but I was unsure how special. I recently saw the film again and was blown away once again. Bong Joon-Ho has crafted undoubtedly one of the best movies of 2019. Fewer films have surprised, shocked, and moved me like Parasite did. And yet, telling you what is great about it will be mighty difficult.
Here’s the thing with Parasite: the less you know going in, the better. This is usually the case for any movie, but it is especially important for Parasite, as the film is full of depth, surprises, twists, and endless brilliance. This review might be shorter than most (something I don’t think many readers will mind), but I don’t want to spoil a single thing.
Parasite has a runtime of just over two-hours-and-ten-minutes, and yet I can only really explain the happenings of the film that occur in first fifteen minutes. We are introduced to Ki-taek (Kang-ho Sang), a broke, jobless, unmotivated leader of his equally lazy family that includes his supportive wife, Chung-sook (Hye-jin Jang), his cynical twentysomething daughter, Ki-jung (So-dam Park), and his college-age son, Ki-woo (Woo-sik Choi). This is a family that can barely afford to keep their cell phones on and are forced to steal wi-fi from a new coffee shop up the street. A family that uses street-wide fumigation to kill the bugs that infest their basement-level home. When Ki-woo gets a job teaching English to the daughter of the wealthy Parks family, Ki-taek and the rest of the family form an interest in the family until the get involved in an unexpected situation.
If you think you know where this film is going, you couldn’t be more wrong. Parasite‘s twisty screenplay will have you guessing until the final frame, which is one of the best final shots of 2019, if not the best. Joon-Ho balances the thrills and twists with comedy and drama and layering the film with a number of socially relevant themes. This is a movie that looks at the upper class versus the lower class and a look at human decency and human respect. Joon-Ho looks at the invisibility of the lower class to the upper class and what happens when people are insulted and pushed to their limits. It’s incredible stuff that could be broken down and analyzed for days. The literature this film is going to produce about classism is going to be unreal.
Parasite is also one of the best acted and best looking movies of the year. Sang, Jang, Park, and Choi are all magnificent, especially Sang and Park, who give awards-level performances. I also loved the performance of Yeo-jeong Jo, who plays the simple and somewhat dimwitted wife of the Park family. The film’s perfect editing keeps the pace quick, the top-notch cinematography and beautiful production design give the film a great look and showcase the contradiction between Ki-taek’s home versus the Parks home.
I’ve seen Parasite twice and I cannot wait to see it again. Led by Bong Joon-Ho’s masterful direction, stellar performances, and technical greatness, Parasite is one of the very best movies of 2019 and a movie unlike any you have seen before.
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