Updated: Jun 4, 2020
"The mansion is just achingly beautiful, but almost too clean and perfect.
It makes you wonder, is everything as it seems?"
Bong Joon Ho (Director) tells a story about South Korea’s rich and poor in Parasite, focusing on two different families (the Parks and the Kims). The down-trodden Kim family desperately try to integrate themselves into the lives of the affluent Parks as tutors for the children before establishing deeper connections and making inroads into the family, all in the hopes of earning enough money to put food on the table. The two families are from vastly different worlds and Parasite reflects this skilfully. The set design of the Park's house is incredible and breath-taking, and the ensemble cast is wonderful. This film may be subtitled but it is not hard to overlook the 'one-inch wall' and become completely enveloped and engrossed in this amazing film. You almost forget the subtitles are there, they certainly do not detract from this masterpiece. Bong Joon Ho has implored people to approach this film cold, I am going to resist giving away the plot points after the first half an hour as a result but I will say that this film takes wild and shocking turns that are truly spectacular!
Bong Joon Ho directed this film with a deft touch, whilst also co-writing a tight and deeply emotional screenplay. It is heart-warming, showing deeply sincere family moments that made me smile and laugh. Bong appeals to the emotions of the audience and connects them to the characters on screen. He packs an explosive punch into the final act of the film, which simmers quietly throughout before reaching a crescendo which left me gobsmacked. The social commentary is also deeply layered, giving interesting points on the strata of a society run by consumerism and money. Parasite feels like it is part social commentary and part intense thriller with elements of action and a splash of comedy all rolled into one. I cannot understate how incredibly intense and amazing the final act is with all these elements coming together!! The set design is truly wonderful, Bong contrasts the detached modern mansion with a semi-basement; the mansion’s stunning walled gardens are a joy to see and help to drive home all the points that this film is trying to make. The mansion is just achingly beautiful, but almost too clean and perfect. It makes you wonder, is everything as it seems?
This cast works best as an ensemble and are a joy to watch, they all work very well with one another and there is fantastic chemistry between all the actors especially, So-Dam Park (Kim Ki-Jung, the daughter in the poor family) and her brother Kim Ki-Woo (Played by Woo-Sik Choi). The interplay between the two is dynamic. So-Dam's performance as the poor daughter pretending to be a highly educated art therapist is brilliant. There are no weak performances and it is no surprise that Parasite won outstanding performance by a cast at the Screen Actors Guild Awards last week. Yeo-Jong Jo plays the naïve and wealthy housewife Park Yeon-kyo, making me laugh but also care for her character. Every actor brings the audience into the world of the film and invests them in the lives of their character. This ensemble cast do a fantastic job together and there are no standout performers, each actor and actress were brilliant because of how they worked with their fellow cast members.
The only thing that outshone this amazing crew was the film’s incredible score, which had a classical style that deteriorated over time into a more chaotic form of music reflecting the mansion and the plot brilliantly. Everything in this film comes together seamlessly, it was intense and dark at times whilst also being both heart-warming and touching in other moments. This film is a piece of art to be admired. It's striking visuals and rich, nuanced story is utterly gripping, and the wonderful acting helps make Parasite a masterpiece. Bong Joon Ho's film feels like it should become a classic and I can barely find a fault with it.
Bong Joon Ho requested that all reviews of Parasite maintain a level of discretion in how they discuss the plot, I have tried to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible so you may watch it 'cold'. This is the best way to see it! I will, however, be posting a no-holds-barred spoiler special. I will delve into the third acts twists and revelations so that I can help myself and you get a deeper understanding of this film, (and because I cannot resist talking about it more)!! Please stay tuned for my in-depth discussion on Parasite.
Written by George Marshall
Edited by Isobella Norman