Film Review: Parasite (2019)

2020-02-18_Award

[Review not spoiler-free.] Parasite, winner of this year’s Best Motion Picture Academy Award, was directed by Bong Joon Ho.

The film focuses on two families, the impoverished and resourceful Kim family (played by Kang-ho Song, Hye-jin Jang, Woo-sik Choi, and So-dam Park), and the Park family (played by Sun-kyun Lee, Yeo-jeong Jo, Ji-so Jung and Hyun-jun Jung) who are affluent and a little naïve. Through the poorer family’s manipulation, the Kims trick the wealthy couple to employ the Kims.

The story has themes of escape, captivity, naivete and unpredictability. Things end up much more tragic than anyone in the story (or the audience) could expect.

Escape comes into play throughout the film. The Kims want to escape a life with fragile Wi-Fi access and a drunk who comes to their half-basement apartment window to relieve himself. The Parks want to be safe and free from the (they believe) dangerous servants that the Kims replace.

The freedom longed for through the escape transitions into captivity with the old housekeeper (Jeong-eun Lee) hiding her husband (Myeong-hoon Park) who is trapped by loan sharks in a shadow existence in the Park’s house. A crisis caused by a torrential rainstorm show that the Kims are also captive by their environment. Their captivity becomes literal as the Kims are stuck hiding under a table hiding from the Park parents.

Naivete is the best description of Mrs. Park who trusts the Kims without proper supervision of the tutors. Also, they don’t have familiarity with life in the poorer parts of Seoul. The Parks talk about a smell which acts in the story as a surrogate for the essence of poverty of the people living like the Kims. The affluent can’t recognize the smell because it is from an alien world.

In a low point of the plot, the Kim’s father suggests that one shouldn’t make plans because life is so unpredictable. The film has very little violence until it transitions into a horrific conflict. I wasn’t prepared for so much blood because I was unaware of the building peril. During the transition, there is a symbolic scene where pools of blood and water are flowing together after one of the violent attacks.

After reaching a high point with a celebratory party, the film falls deeper and deeper into its very grim outcome. Both the Kim and Park families are devastated and crushed-both parasite and host suffer.

The emotions through the film are fluid as the characters go through a series of triumphs and catastrophes. The storytelling didn’t force specific emotions on me with a Disneyesque conclusion. The score of such films can be a lever to aid the “Feel this” command. Parasite’s score is more subdued. When it’s noticed, the music is in the service of the story and is not a essential part of the producer’s emotional control panel.

Parasite wasn’t what I expected and turned out to be something much better.

The untouchables at the top and the untouchables at the bottom

The untouchables at the top have forgotten how lucky they are. They live at the top of a house of cards that is held up by millions of the untouchables at the bottom.

The untouchables at the bottom include the disabled, disadvantaged and discarded.

The wealthy untouchables at the top are the beneficiaries of luck and the roll of a dice but they take credit for their success as their own deserving.

The untouchables at the top have money, and thus power. They become untouchable by using their power to pay for legislation that increases their altitude. They escape justice on the basis of their wealth and connections.

In the old caste society, the untouchables were a class of rejected people. They had no way to improve their situation.

In our new caste society, if you’re disabled or disadvantaged, you are accused of being lazy. With a single roll of a dice, you suddenly became someone who does not matter–you can’t hold up those at the top of the house anymore.

The disadvantaged work hard. They have dreams and ideas and hopes, but the cards are stacked against them. While they fell where they are by fickle fate, in the new caste society, genius and hard work won’t pick them back up.

The discarded are in worse shape. If you’re homeless or mentally ill, you embarrass the rich. They legislate you out of the field of vision. You break through their smug self-importance, so you shouldn’t be here. In some cities, being homeless or mentally ill is a capital offense executed by police who are sworn to protect them.

They moral bankruptcy of the wealthy keeps their bank accounts full, but they won’t share their bread and fishes with the men and women waiting for the waters of the pool to stir.

The millions locked away have no voice and no recourse. People who have been in prison have 2 1/2 strikes against them. They’ll be punished after their punishment. Don’t work here. Don’t live there. Stay away. If you’re young and not-white, you already have a half a strike for being born.

Being rich is not a matter of deserving. If you would analyze fairly, you would see that hundreds of others, just as deserving, are not standing next to you because of dumb luck.

Those who are disdainful of the current young are forgetting who will be caring for them in 25 years. The resentments are not getting any smaller and a house of cards falls very fast.