Parasite won the Cannes d’Or in style, signaling a masterpiece for writer-director, Joon-ho Bong. Having directed the ultra-violent and relentless, Snowpiercer, Bong has shown his flair and vision. Yet, it’s Parasite that will serve as his calling card going forward, creating a personal film in his home country of South Korea.
Parasite focuses on the Kims, a Korean family who have fallen upon hard times, folding pizza boxes and stealing wi-fi to get by. An opportunity arrives in the form of a tutoring job with the wealthy Park family, which offers the Kims a way out of their penniless predicament. Resourceful, street smart and spirited, they band together and conspire to start over with a restored sense of dignity.
The film stars Kang-ho Song, Woo-sik Choi, Yeo-jeong Jo, Sun-kuyn Lee and So-dam Park. Well-acted, cleverly holding the line between art house drama and commercial comedy, the broad ensemble pull together quite handsomely. Being a comedy and a drama, the balancing act is quite masterful thanks to wink-wink performances and a clear vision from Joon-ho Bong.
While the title would have you believe this film was a horror, it’s more of a question. Starting out like a high concept comedy, before settling into a situation and premise that could be the basis for a brilliant upstairs-downstairs sitcom, it develops into a dark comedy turned thriller with political undertones.
“So many pizza boxes… and no pizza.”
While its charming cast and sly machinations make for great entertainment, Parasite is by no means an ordinary comedy. It’s got a much darker edge, deftly shifting from laugh-out-loud funny to something much more sinister and subversively political. A cat-and-mouse thriller – devious scheming and mistaken identity transform a well-balanced and amusing comedy scenario into something much more thought-provoking.
All the while, it remains artful and well-acted, allowing the director to demonstrate his dexterity when it comes to genre play and powering home with some important themes. Finely calibrated whether it be in the slums or upmarket living of a modern mansion, the visuals hold together quite elegantly, moving with grace and finesse.
Intelligent, insightful and never a dull moment, this Korean masterpiece cuts through the strata of society, making incisive commentary on the class divide seem like a natural overflow without losing its intrinsic entertainment value.
Imaginative transitions, tapping into some of the darker shades of human nature and always keeping the audience guessing, Parasite is an unforgettable and masterful dark comedy thriller of the highest order. It underscores Bong’s sleek yet vicious Snowpiercer, yet creates something bold, funny and sardonic in the process.
The bottom line: Incisive