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Parasite (A Movie Review)

Updated: Apr 13, 2020



Starring Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Chang Hyae-jin, Lee Sun-kyun, Lee Jung-eun, Jeong Ji-so, Jung Hyeon-jun, Park Myung-hoon, Park Geun and Park Seo-joon.

Screenplay by Bong Joon-ho & Han Jin-won.

Directed by Bong Joon-ho.

Distributed by Neon. 132 minutes. Rated R.

Ever since its big win at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, the buzz has been huge for Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, with many fans calling it the best comedy – hell, the best film – of this past year, and perhaps several years previous. So, now that Parasite is getting a video release, after a reasonably impressive box office run for an art-house film, and even a rare Best Picture Oscar nomination for a foreign-language film (it’s only the twelfth non-English film nominated for the top honor in 92 years of the Academy Awards), the big question is: were those raves legit?

Is it the best movie of the year? No, not even close, though it’s a very good film.

Is it the best comedy? No, it’s somewhat darkly amusing, but never really what one would call laugh-out-loud funny. And the ending is so dark that it spins dangerously close to becoming a tragedy.

Is it worth all the buzz? Probably not, but it’s definitely worth seeing. It is most certainly unique.

Parasite is a black comedy looking at the haves and the have nots in South Korea; a class struggle in which only one side seems to realize that there is even a fight. The parasite of the title is a lower class family, whose son lucks into a job as a tutor for a wealthy family, and they all scheme to get his entire brood – his sister, father and mother – hired for jobs at the house that they are not qualified for, even if it means getting the people already in those jobs fired.

The family of con artists think they have won the lottery – thriving on the perks of the wealth of their new employers – until one rainy night when everything starts to go horrifically wrong.

I won’t go too much deeper into the plot, because a big part of the fun of Parasite is in experiencing Bong Joon-ho’s eccentric storytelling style in real time.

It is also one of the rare films in which the poor are devious schemers and the rich are generally nice and rather naïve – or so it seems through most of the first half. About 45 minutes into the film, Parasite takes a hard right turn and becomes something much different and much darker than it had seemed to be earlier.

Whether this change in direction works is of course a decision for the viewer. Honestly, I was not necessarily as impressed by the somewhat violent climax as many of the film’s biggest fans were, but then again, I am not so presumptuous to assume that I am completely right and all of them are wrong. It’s a matter of personal taste, and it is quite obvious that a great many people did like the little rabbit hole that Parasite ends up taking.

As I said earlier, Parasite may not be the best picture of the year, but it is certainly a very good one. It is also not at all cookie cutter – it is a very different type of film experience. You likely cannot go wrong by giving it a shot.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2020 All rights reserved. Posted: January 28, 2020.

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