The Palme d’Or winning ‘Parasite’ lives up to all the hype and anticipation that hasn’t come close to slowing down since its release at Cannes almost a year ago. Through the lens of an obscure relationship between the wealthy Park family, and the struggling Kim family, writer and director Bong Joon-Ho continues his examination into the disparity of class, greed, and societal and cultural tensions. A director known for his critiques of modern society through fantastical, dystopian narratives such as ‘Okja’ and ‘Snowpiercer’, ‘Parasite’ is firmly planted in the present day, allowing it to hit home in more ways than one.
To single out any one of the performances of this exceptional ensemble cast does the others an injustice. Each character is so beautifully written, well-formed, and individual in their specific role, all of which are essential to the film’s success. The relationships between one another succeed at the highest level with both families contrasting each other like black and white, while also sucking you deeper into this obscure, unfolding scenario that blurs the identities enforced by economic status. However, I will highlight Park So-Dam as Kim Ki-Jung and Cho Yeo-Jeong Jo as the daughter in the Kim family, and Mother of the Park family respectively. In a year of cinematic one-two punch performances by so many dynamic duos from Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood’ to Robert Eggers’ ‘The Lighthouse’, this stands up there with the best of them. All of their scenes together provide two of the most entertaining characters of the year with onscreen chemistry that empowers their relationship of a puppeteer and its subject. But who is who?
Alongside the ensemble cast, ‘Parasite’ is told through a genre-bending, zig-zagging narrative that will leave you guessing right up until the final scene. Bong Joon-Ho shows total control through his use of tempo, an economic style of storytelling, and a slow-reveal of information that allows him to never play his narrative cards too early. This narrative is essentially split into two locations for the majority of the film. Revealing a stark contrast in how these characters experience life. Both locations are expertly and uniquely shot, and reinforce the essential role that setting has in the story. This also reinforces the film’s themes that are steeped in modern South Korean culture but translate trans-nationally with ease.
To reveal or say any more about ‘Parasite’ would not be fair. This film succeeds if you go in as blind as possible. However, it more than lives up to the hype and deserves all of the accolades it is currently receiving. It is a genre-bending piece of cinema that has you on the edge of your seat with moments of superb black humour, thrills and pure horror. Just when you think it’s thrown its last curve ball there is always one more. If there is any film for audiences to get over “the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles,” then it should be ‘Parasite’.
Written by Conor Crooks
STAR RATING –★★★★★
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