Usually, I am a few decades late with my film reviews, but this time, I manage to recommend a movie that is still playing in cinemas: Parasite.
A cleverly constructed thriller, fast-paced, humorous, but also a social critique. Too much for one film, you may think, but Bong Joon-Ho pulls it off.
Sometimes, it’s quite obvious, with the rich family living on top of a hill, and the poor family living, or rather surviving, literally at the lowest level of Seoul. But it never becomes a caricature of either stratum. The poor family is clever and smart. The rich family is nice and friendly. Initially, viewers may assume that “parasite” refers to the poor family cheating their way into the life of the rich family. But then, why would it be parasitic to want someone else’s money, but not to want someone else’s time and labor? Aren’t both feeding off each other?
What I liked most about this film was that it didn’t make me develop obvious sympathies for one side. As the plot evolved and it became obvious that there would have to be a clash at some point, I was rooting for both sides.
And just as the tension became almost unbearable, a third family and with it a third social layer showed up. It’s complicated, but never confusing. Unless you are trying to think of a way out to reconcile the interests of all three families. Because that’s not possible, like in real life. The film is a metaphor for our market-driven society that calls itself meritocratic but is deeply exploitative. Parasite leaves so many thoughts lingering in your mind, to come back to much later, long after the girl with whom you watched it has left you – because she felt you weren’t quite up to her economic standards, ironically.
Just one warning: In the end, it becomes true class warfare, Tarantino style. I found the ending out of place. But for the first 90%, it’s more Hitchcock, suspense without violence.
- More about movies.
I would have liked to like this movie, but for a movie wanting to be realistic, there were too many loopholes. Spoilers ahead…
1- Every single member of the poor family turns out to be a pure genius outsmarting the rich family. A great English teacher with lots of assurance (from day 1), a psychologist understanding everything, a driver who might have never driven a car in his life (but scooters) and yet drive like he had decades of experience (yet forget to wash himself / his clothes and/or use deodorant). Come on, if they are so brilliant, why are they among the poorest of Seoul in the first instance?
2- Why did they have to trash the house? They are so smart and suddenly so dumb and get drunk?
3- This whole bunker story. Hard to believe people being able to live years in such bunker without being noticed. Renovations never happen and probably you would not want to hide the door of the bunker behind a heavy shelf that barely anyone can move (yes in case of a nuclear attack, you probably don’t want to waste your time moving this shelf, do you?). And even when the house is sold, the bunker is not even visited while it’s said to be “an asset of rich family houses in Seoul”… And the light with the bunker is beyond naive, none really cares about that light…
4- The Tarantino ending. As much as I love Tarantino, why had it to end like this? After all, the poor father was smart during the whole movie and just because of one (more) remark, he turns suddenly into a psycho killer? And the rich guy asking for the keys? Why the hell? He could just run away instead, the killer was not even interested in him… Ohh…
I’m not much into these kind of social movies, but the least I would expect from such movies is to have a realistic plot, yet I’m sorry to say that it turned out to be as unrealistic as Stars Wars …
1 – A lot of smart people are poor. And a lot of dumb people are rich. It starts with your parents, where you are born, whom you know, what you inherit, and so on.
And then, I am not sure if they are the poorest of Seoul. They have an apartment, they don’t seem to starve. For some people, this would be a level up.
2 – Alcohol is evil. Maybe it was a way to show that they were not always super smart.
3 – Okay, that didn’t strike me as very realistic, either. But I am waiting for someone from Korea to weigh in.
The basement apartments at least are real: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-51321661 (I recently stayed in basement apartments in Kyiv and in Odessa. The former didn’t have any natural light, it really felt like a prison.)
4 – The violent ending didn’t quite fit the film. I struggle to come up with a satisfying plot twist that wouldn’t be cheesy, but I am sure the writer had more time to think about it than I have put to it.
I enjoyed it quite as much as you seem to have. It is hard to end a story like this without it becoming a farce or a tragedy.
Yeah, I have been thinking how I would have ended it, but I haven’t had any stroke of genius.
The end after the end, with the light signals, that is quite moving.
I agree with you there
I watched this movie based on your recommendation. was quite entertaining but I also found it rather cheesy in general. Thanks for the recommendation
Wow. I think this is the first time that someone followed a movie recommendation of mine! :-)
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