From Bong Joon-ho (“The Host,” “Mother”), “Parasite” is his most expansive and detailed film to date. With aspects of noir, horror, black comedy, and social commentary, it exudes great humanism. From the very first instant it teases, jokes and pulls one in. It has scarcely an empty moment, remaining gripping throughout.
Min (Seo-joon Park) a spoiled manipulator, convinces an impoverished young man Kim Kai-woo (Choi Woo-shik) be pose as a math tutor to a wealthy girl Da-hye (Jung Ji-so). Once the tutor is hired, talk shifts to the family’s hyperactive son, Da-song (Hyun-jun Jung) who needs an art teacher. Enter Kai-woo’s sister Kim Ki-jung (Park So-dam) who poses as an art therapist.
Ki-jung decides to secretly denigrate the family chauffeur by leaving her underwear in the limo. Ashamed by the driver’s supposed behavior, the well-to-do family then hires as a replacement Kai-woo and Ki-jung’s father, Kim (Song Kang-ho). And another duplicitous maneuver gets their mother hired as the housekeeper, all without ever revealing their family web to the unsuspecting employers.
With elements of his previous film “The Host,” the director paints Kai-woo’s family as desperate and in peril. Their house is full of sewage, the walls are moldy and they are frequently exposed to cancer-causing chemicals, used as guinea pigs for cash.
The film echoes much from “The Talented Mr. Ripley” to Jordan Peele’s “Us.” It is a movie about need, desire and material lust. It is also about bureaucracy and a nonchalance about human life.
The story has multiple twists and is full of pointed asides. Its rolling breakneck pace is one of the films best attributes, it never fails to keep the audience guessing.
Bong Joon-ho is one of the most empathetic and conscious directors working today, and here he relates his past concerns of industrial pollution, human excess and consumption to perfect effect. All families may be tainted by various neuroses, but homes themselves become ornately folded charnel houses of monetary sin. The condition is inescapable.
“Parasite” leaves one question: from where does lust (be it financial or base greed) originate. Is it in the dirty air or water? Or does it organically occur in the tech-pointed Western mind?
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