Parasite, directed by Bong Joon Ho, is in my opinion the best movie of 2019. The film is a comedy, thriller, commentary, suspense film that I absolutely loved after watching it the first time. There are so many moments in the film that are so memorable, the score is phenomenal, the actors are realistic, the writing is tight and nuanced. There are some really tiny nitpicks I could make but I won’t because of how close to perfect this film is.
Bong Joon Ho is no stranger to making commentary about class in his films, his previous film Snowpiercer, being a good example of this. The entire plot of Snowpiercer, being that of the lower class, who suffering harsh conditions in the back of the train, trying to take down the upper class, whom are enjoying a life of luxury and hedonism at the head of the train.
Parasite, is a story about the Kim family, a family living in poverty in a sub level basement, trying to integrate and take over the Park family, a family living in a luxurious house walled away from others. This being a very simplistic synopsis of the plot as to not give away spoilers just yet. This film is a must watch.
The films pacing, editing, score, acting, set design, writing, meta context, context, theming. Everything, is perfect. Before you continue reading please be aware of the spoilers, this film is best entered blind and I absolutely recommend seeing this film as soon as you possibly can. I usually do not take spoilers this seriously but this film is a special exception.
From here on out I will be spoiling minor and major parts of the film, read if you’d like but it is preferred that you watch this film first if you haven’t seen it yet.
par·a·site/ˈperəˌsīt/noun: parasite; plural noun: parasites
- An organism that lives in or on an organism of another species (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the other’s expense. Example: “The parasite attaches itself to the mouths of fishes”
- (DEROGATORY) A person who habitually relies on or exploits others and gives nothing in return. Example: “The capitalist is really a parasite on the workers”
The film introduces us to two families, first the Kim family, a family of four, living in bad conditions. They are a family of frugality, living in a basement, doing temp jobs in hopes of scraping by and living another day. The family is skilled, hardworking, and always plan ahead. They wish to live a life of luxury and are willing to take risks to do so.
The second family it introduces is the Park family, a higher class family that lives a life of luxury and ease. The family being lazy and/or unskilled hires a tutor for their daughter, an art teacher for their son, a house keeper for the wife and family, and a driver for the husband.
When Kim Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) is offered a job of being an English tutor for Park Da-hye (Jeong Ji-so) by his good friend Min-hyuk (Park Seo-joon) he then forms a plan to take down the Park family’s established workers and replace them one by one with members of his family.
The Kim family acts as a parasite, hence the title of the film, a friendly looking specimen on the outside but has only intentions to keep its host alive and well to keep themselves alive and well. They take down whatever gets in their way and only wish to survive rather than empathize.
What makes this more interesting is the Park family. A family full of the naive, incompetent, and the ignorant. Dealt the hand of wealth and yet has not earned it. The Parks are distant, living on a house built on a hilltop. They are above others problems and are parasitic of their servants, depending upon them to drive, to raise and teach their kids, to cook, to clean, to help. They act as if they are generous but treat the servants underneath them as disposable, replaceable, and only there to benefit them.
At this point you could stop and look at the film from this dynamic between the Kims and the Parks and call it a day. The dynamic between the two is clear cut and each has their right and wrongs, but then just as an air tight plan can still fail, Bong Joon Ho throws in a curve ball with the twist in the second act.
Bong Joon Ho introduces a third parasite to the dynamic, that of Gook Moon-gwang (Lee Jung-eun) the previous housekeeper and her husband Geun-sae (Park Myung-hoon). The couple had been living in a secret hidden basement of the house ever since the previous owner had lived there.
With this twist comes an interesting view of the dynamic, that being of those beneath the ground, those peeking their head out from just above, and those who walk above everyone else. The film beautifully weaves the three levels of poverty into each other and gives you an interesting take of class warfare.
It’s so perfect how it shows that those who are stuck in the basement, like Moon-gwang and Geun-sae, have no plan. They live without a goal to move up, but rather to just survive.
Those who live in a sub basement, like the Kim family, have a window to see what it’s like above. They plan and adapt in hopes of crawling their way up. They pick up whatever skills they can, but no matter what, no matter how many flights of stairs they climb, no matter how far they get up, they will never make it all they way.
And finally those who walk above everyone else, The Park family, living in a luxurious house built on top of a hill. They have no need nor desire to walk down those steps, they do not wish for others to walk up them either. They have no plan, but only a goal to be comfortable. They will use others to rid over even the most minut inconveniences, and if that person becomes an inconvenience themselves they will rid of them with nothing but a quick “pack your shit and goodbye.”
Much of this movie is nuanced yet clear cut about its themes and messages, those being about the divide of class and how even the simplest things such as a rain storm can affect in various ways. For the Parks, the rain is a blessing as it clears out the pollution in the air for an improptu birthday party. Yet for the Kim family, the rain storm floods their house, destroying most of their belongings.
Parasite is the best movie of the year. It is as I and hundreds of others have called, a perfect film. If you haven’t seen this film yet, go see it. It’s a modern classic that I hope will be studied for years. I cannot express how great, Parasite is. There’s so much I left out in this review and I wish I was smart enough to write more about it which I probably will. I loved Parasite. Parasite is a parasite inside my head and I just want more of this film. Let’s hope that the HBO series based on the film Bong Joon Ho is just as good if not better.