“Snowpiercer” director Joon-ho Bongs PARASITE (2019) wins one international film award after the next and is considered the favorite for the foreign language Oscar. In our review we reveal whether the laurels and praise for the mash-up of tragicomedy and psychological thriller are actually justified.
The wealthy Park family celebrates regularly and lavishly.
The plot summary
The Kim family lives in a hopelessly run-down, far too narrow basement apartment with no direct sunlight and – even worse! – without WiFi. Father Ki-taek (Kang-ho Song) and mother Chung-sook (Hyae Jin Chang) have been unemployed for years. The adult children Ki-woo (Woo-sik Choi) and Ki-jung (So-dam Park) also live here. Everyone’s dinner usually consists of a bag of instant noodles and a can of cheap beer divided by four. The Kims’ only sources of income are petty scams and folding boxes for a pizza delivery service. One day, through a former school friend, Ki-woo gets a job as a substitute tutor for the daughter of a well-off businessman (Sun-kyun Lee) who lives in a huge, modern villa. There he gains the trust of his new boss’s wife (Yeo-jeong Cho). He manages to get his sister a job as an art teacher for their completely untalented little son. Finally, the siblings scheme until the remaining employees of the inexperienced parks, the housekeeper and the chauffeur, are replaced by their parents. But even the good money that they now earn for their mediocre and listless jobs is far from enough for the Kims. They want more. They want everything…
Parasite Movie Meaning & ending
After Joon-ho Bong achieved festival success in Germany with his debut “Dogs that bark, don’t bite” (2000) and then “Memories of Murder” (2003), he finally succeeded in 2006 with “The Host”. the international breakthrough. The amusing mix of classic monster hit, character dramedy and current social satire was the South Korean’s first work to be released regularly in cinemas here and in many other countries, while at home it became the most-watched film of all time. Six years later, Bong delivered his first English-language work with the great “Snowpiercer” and stars like Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton and Jamie Bell. After the wonderful, wonderfully eccentric Netflix adventure film “Okja” (2017, again with Swinton), Bong returned to Seoul and his native language to shoot what was probably the best film of his already illustrious career to date: “Parasite”, in the original “ Gisaengchung” or “기생충”.
The Kim family really lets it rip at the rich parks.
As we have become accustomed to from the director, he once again does not commit to any genre with the winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Festival. “Parasite” oscillates sometimes elegantly, sometimes completely surprisingly, but surprisingly homogeneously between dark social drama, darkly humorous tragicomedy, some turbulent slapstick inserts and a perfidious psychological thriller. Similar and yet completely different to Todd Phillips’ “Joker”, an intelligent, original arthouse film with genre elements and veritable mass appeal has been masterfully produced here.
“Burning” cinematographer Kyung-pyo Hong dresses the extremely entertaining, super-entertaining story, about which we don’t want to reveal much more than the synopsis above, in breathtakingly effective images. They make the Kims’ home appear oppressively narrow, almost like a stuffy, dirty cave, while the spacious rooms of the Park Villa appear open and flooded with sunlight. Even in the dark of night, you almost feel like you’re outside, under the open, always benevolently protective sky. This is just one of the various methods that Bong and his team use with virtuosity, sometimes subtle, sometimes quite hearty, to illustrate the social gap and the division of modern society (not just Korean society) into rich and poor and to draw the viewer’s attention to them to pull the Kims’ side. Only to have the rug gleefully ripped out from under him, or rather washed away, in one of the most spectacular and shocking final sequences of the cinema year…
Conclusion: Credible, relevant social criticism in the guise of extremely clever popcorn entertainment – Joon-ho Bong achieves a brilliant balancing act between genres with “Parasite”.
“Parasite” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from October 17th.