Ever since it won the Palme d’Or at Cannes earlier this year, the strong buzz surrounding “Parasite” has been infectious. Considering all the build-up I was worried this could be the classic case of ‘over-promise and under-deliver’. But instead, celebrated Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s creation not only meets, but in some cases exceeds all the hype.
Bong (“The Host”, “Snowpiercer”, “Okja”) has crafted a rich, meticulous and ultimately wicked script. You can try to anticipate what’s coming, but you will not succeed.
In short – it’s impossible to escape from “Parasite’. From the opening scene of the Kim family crammed in a small basement apartment in the slums of South Korea, you are locked in. The Kims (father, mother and teenage brother and sister – all unemployed) are desperate to improve their situation. Unexpected help arrives from a friend. A plan is set in motion to get one of them a much-needed job – working for a wealthy family. And from there – well, let’s just say the plan takes some twists.
Bong has cleverly choreographed every minute of this unraveling saga. What begins as a light caper film, soon turns, and turns and turns again. All the while themes of class distinction, economic inequality and the human condition are weaved into every scene.
The cinematography by Hong Kyung-pyo perfectly matches Bong’s vision. We feel both the claustrophobia and the freedom of the two main settings. And then there’s rain – which is captured in all its glory and all its pain.
These characters are some of the most dynamic of the year. Much credit goes to the outstanding cast, led by Song Kang-ho as the proud and determined father. And their situations are some of the most memorable (darkly funny, incredibly sad and wildly bizarre). And just when you think things might stray too far off the path, Bong reels it all in. Everything that happens, and as crazy as things get, everything makes sense. The director burrows an honesty into a film that, on the surface, is based on the exact opposite.
Part comedy, part family adventure, part social satire and part dramatic thriller, “Parasite’ is a masterful work.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Parasite” gets an A.
Running Time: 132 min.