A slightly different take:
Korean Title: 기생충 (Kisaengchung)
Origin and Year of Release: South Korea (2019)
Written and Directed by: Bong Joon Ho (봉준호)
Starring: Song Kang Ho, Lee Sun Kyun, Cho Yeo Jeong, Choi Woo Sik, Park So Dam, Lee Jung Eun, Jang Hye Jin (송강호, 이순견, 초여정, 최우식, 박소담, 이정은, 장은진)
Genre: Black comedy thriller
I was one of the people who was late to the Parasite watch party, and only watched it after it won its Oscar, despite it being on my to-watch list months before. I’m aware that watching an award-winning film after it has won that award may mean that you have a pre-conceived idea that the film is good, but I cannot fault this film on anything. It was so captivating and I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the screen.
Realism. I love realistic cinema and Parasite is exactly that. Real.
The film showcases the societal hierarchy and wealth disparity that is ever-present in Korean society, below the shiny Hallyu surface.
A family trying their best to survive, is forced to become parasitic. Ironic considering that the wealthy often look down at poor people as parasites, often pinning them as lazy or unfortunate, but Parasite shows us the survival edge of the parasitic sword. Whether their survival techniques are the best choice or not is, however, up for debate.
But Parasite is about more than just a symbolic title and a hierarchical motif. The film investigates humanity and the selfish side of the human persona, be it something “less significant” such as starting a relationship with the girl your friend likes or something big like almost killing a woman by using her allergy against her and framing her for having a disease.
It plays on consequence and shows that not every action has an equal reaction. That some retaliations are not from a place of pure vengeance but simply a selfish desire to live. The film makes you question whether the antagonists are evil or not by rooting their actions in the deep reality of their circumstance.
The cinematography and sound design are clean and crisp, not overly-dramatized, to keep these characters sunken into every second of their reality, without ever taking away from the choices they constantly have to make. It doesn’t allow them to question morality but rather echoes the sentiment that justice (in terms of inequality) is the only matter of importance. We can ask whether it was the right thing to do, after we reap the rewards of what we have done.
After the chaotic climax (which I will not mention for the sake of not spoiling it) we once again only face the consequences of the characters’ actions after everything has hit the fan. We’re left with a mystery about what happens to the main perpetrator, who after self-introspection assigns their own justice.
The parasites are exterminated or returned to a non-beneficial place and we are left uncertain but concerned about where they will find their next host, regardless of the morality of their previous actions.
Overall, I’d watch this movie again and again and again. Big ups to Korean film, you’ve always been a goodie but now more of the world can see that.
What did you think of Parasite?