Parasite is a 2019 South Korean black comedy thriller film directed by Bong Joon-ho, who co-wrote the screenplay with Han Jin-won. The film, starring Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Jang Hye-jin, and Lee Jung-eun, follows a poor family who scheme to become employed by a wealthy family and infiltrate their household by posing as unrelated, highly qualified individuals.

Parasite premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival on 21 May 2019, where it became the first South Korean film to win the Palme d’Or. It was then released in South Korea by CJ Entertainment on 30 May 2019. The film is considered by many critics to be the best film of 2019 and one of the greatest films of the 21st century. It grossed over $263 million worldwide on a $15.5 million budget. Among its numerous accolades, Parasite won a leading four awards at the 92nd Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film, becoming the first non-English language film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Parasite is the first South Korean film to receive Academy Award recognition, along with being one of three films to win both the Palme d’Or and the Academy Award for Best Picture, the first such achievement in over 60 years.[note 2] It won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language, and became the first non-English language film to win the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. A television series, set around the events of the film, is in early development.

The Kim family—father Ki-taek, mother Chung-sook, daughter Ki-jung, and son Ki-woo—live in a small semi-basement apartment (banjiha) in Seoul, have low-paying temporary jobs folding pizza boxes, and struggle to make ends meet. University student Min-hyuk, a friend of Ki-woo’s, gives the family a scholar’s rock meant to promise wealth. Leaving to study abroad and knowing his friend needs the income, he suggests that Ki-woo pose as a university student to take over his job as an English tutor for the daughter of the wealthy Park family, Da-hye. Ki-woo, pretending to be a Yonsei University student, is subsequently hired by the Parks.

The Kim family schemes to get each member of the family a job by posing as unrelated and highly qualified workers to become servants of the Parks. Ki-jung poses as “Jessica” and, using Ki-Woo as a reference, becomes an art therapist to the Parks’ young son, Da-song. Ki-jung frames Yoon, Mr Park’s chauffeur, by making it appear as if he had sex in the car, then recommends Ki-taek to replace him. Finally, Chung-sook takes over as the Parks’ housekeeper after the Kims exploit the peach allergy of the long-time housekeeper, Moon-gwang, to convince Mrs Park that she has tuberculosis. Ki-woo begins a secret romantic relationship with Da-hye.

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When the Parks leave on a camping trip, the Kims revel in the luxuries of the residence before Moon-gwang abruptly appears at the door, telling Chung-sook she left something in the basement. She enters a hidden entrance to an underground bunker created by the architect and previous homeowner, where Moon-gwang’s husband, Geun-sae, has been secretly living for over four years, hiding from loan sharks. Chung-sook refuses Moon-gwang’s pleas to help Geun-sae remain in the bunker, but the eavesdropping Kims accidentally reveal themselves. Moon-gwang films them on her phone and threatens to expose their ruse to the Parks.

A severe rainstorm brings the Parks home early, and the Kims scramble to clean up the home and subdue Moon-gwang and Geun-sae before they return. The Kims trap Geun-sae and Moon-gwang in the bunker. Mrs Park reveals to Chung-sook that Da-song had a seizure-inducing traumatic experience on a previous birthday, when he saw a “ghost” — actually Geun-sae — emerging from the basement at night. Before the Kims manage to sneak out of the house, they hear Mr Park’s off-handed comments about Ki-taek’s smell. The Kims find their apartment flooded with sewer water as a result of the severe rainstorm and are forced to shelter in a gymnasium with other displaced people.

The next day, Mrs Park hosts a house party for Da-song’s birthday with the Kim family’s help. Ki-woo enters the bunker with the scholar’s rock to find Geun-sae. Finding Moon-gwang has died from a concussion she received during the earlier fight, he is attacked by a deranged Geun-sae, who bludgeons his head with the rock and escapes, leaving Ki-woo lying in a pool of blood at the entrance to the basement. Seeking to avenge Moon-gwang, Geun-sae stabs Ki-jung with a kitchen knife in front of the horrified party guests. Da-song suffers another seizure upon seeing Geun-sae, and a struggle breaks out until Chung-sook fatally impales Geun-sae with a barbecue skewer. While Ki-taek tends to a severely bleeding Ki-jung, Mr Park orders Ki-taek to drive Da-song to the hospital. In the chaos, Ki-taek, upon seeing Mr Park’s disgusted reaction to Geun-sae’s smell, angrily kills him with the knife. Ki-taek then flees the scene, leaving the rest of the Kim family behind.

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Weeks later, Ki-woo is recovering from brain surgery. He and Chung-sook are convicted of fraud and put on probation. Ki-jung is revealed to have died from her injuries, and Ki-taek, wanted by the police for Mr Park’s murder, cannot be found. Geun-sae has been assumed to be an insane homeless man, and neither his nor Ki-taek’s motive for the stabbings are known. Ki-woo spies on the Parks’ home, now occupied by a German family unaware of its history, and sees a message in Morse code from a flickering light. Ki-taek, who escaped into the bunker via the garage, has buried Moon-gwang in the backyard and now raids the kitchen at night and sends the message every day, hoping Ki-woo will see it. Still living in their original basement apartment with his mother, Ki-woo writes a letter to Ki-taek, vowing to earn enough money to one day purchase the house and reunite with his father.

Review

I think I expected a little too much and I’m a little disappointed. In fact, Parasite is a good film, even probably a very good film, it’s perfectly executed, the story is terribly effective, it’s magnificently acted… In short, there is everything in this film and I understand that he was awarded at Cannes.

However, I see a slight step backwards compared to Snowpiercer on the treatment of the class struggle. Let me explain, in both films the main theme is social and the opposition between a dominant class and a dominated class. The metaphor is pushed to its climax in Snowpiercer since to progress socially is to advance towards the front of the train. In Parasite it’s about going up, there’s a kind of upper town and lower town like in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. The main difference lies in the fact that Snowpiercer proposes to move forward by overcoming the initial conflict by finding a third way out of the opposition rich poor and the dream of social climbing since the whole society seems screwed up. We had to start from scratch.

Here we stay in something more classic with the poor who want to occupy the place of the rich.

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Afterwards, it’s very well told and the message is really successful, I particularly like this descent into hell where the characters, under a torrential rain, have to return to their homes. Clearly we see all the difference between the rich with their beautiful garden and the rain which causes them no damage and the brothel downstairs… Especially since the sequence is totally mind-blowing because it goes far into the apocalyptic delirium, the mud, the shit are ubiquitous.

But let’s say that I find it more classic… more classic, but on the other hand more tragic too, because there is no hope for the poor except by taking the place of the rich. .. which we know is impossible. They are locked for life in their social class to smell the beggars who take the metro.

Because what is successful in the film is the humiliation of the bourgeois. Humiliation that goes crescendo, since their behavior is more and more ridiculous in their desire to distinguish themselves from the proletarians and in their manners. So they find themselves holding their noses because of the smell of the poor…

At first we find these bourgeois sympathetic, nice and then we see all the mediocrity linked to their social class, all their stupidity… But above all we see that the proletarians, instead of uniting, prefer to hit each other in order to be in the little papers of the bourgeois. The alienation is perfect. The poor want to please the rich so that he entrusts him with some of his money.

Thereupon it’s quite interesting thematically, although it’s never really new and as said I largely preferred Snowpiercer on that side.

Overall I must say that I preferred the first part of the film, where the shot is set up, because it is more enjoyable. Seeing the members of the family impose themselves one after the other in a rich family, there is something delicious about it. However, I really like the social questioning, which is more present in the second part. But let’s say I expected something crazier, something that goes even further.

It’s really an appreciable film, accessible and yet demanding, it manages to make quality popular cinema perfectly where reflection is not left out.

In short, I had a great time, but I’m still a little on my hunger.

5/5 - (4 votes)

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