Cast: Song Kang-ho, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong
Writer & Director: Bong Joon-ho
Let me be very clear here. While entering into the world of Parasite, I was absolutely clueless except for the fact that the film had been recognized as the Best Film at the Academy Awards, 2020. This is not a review. It is just a normal Indian person, oblivious to foreign regional films, trying to widen the horizon for his love of films and art(read: homesickness due to the pandemic). Let’s see if the film did resonate with me.
The film revolves around two families : the Kims and the Parks. The former are all broke making their ends meet by folding pizza boxes, and connecting to whatever free WiFi they can steal. The latter are the wealthy ones living in an astounding home, with a perfectly overlooking lawn. Two completely contrasting families are precisely interwoven in this strong metaphorical film with utmost brilliance. Destiny has something in store for both the families as it goes on a roller coaster ride after an initial lightness in the screenplay.
It starts off with Ki-Woo(a.k.a Kevin), the Kims youngest child forging his credentials to get employed as an English tutor with a wealthy couple, Mr Park and his affable wife, for their daughter. During this time, Mrs Park introduces him to her mischievous adolescent who needs help improving his drawing skills. Kevin, being the opportunist, pounces onto the opportunity introducing his sister as an Illinois graduate, not revealing her real identity of course. This string of forgery extends with Kevin’s sister deceiving the Parks making their current driver come across as a pervert. She grabs this opportunity to get her father employed as their driver. The husband then recommends his wife to take over as housekeeper after a scheme involving the most creative use of peaches. What follows is a story of unexpected twists and turns, turning the film which once so beautifully grew on you to one filled with satire, metaphors and dark humour. The Kims living just beneath the spellbinding home without the Parks knowing about it. There is uneasiness throughout the film, with a lot of depth and subplots getting peeled off one after the other. This makes the film a compelling watch. It goes from one extreme to another with such smoothness. That is all about the film’s plot which should compel you to hop onto the film streaming on Prime Video right now.
The film is set in South Korea, but rarely does it not feel universal – that coming from an amateur foreign film viewer, should clear all qualms of being a film from a different culture. There are glimpses of economic inequality, the privileged demeaning the inferiors, and the discomfort shown by them when around the poor. There are moments which make you startled as a viewer. The moment which makes the film’s title metaphorically apt. “Like a rag that has been boiled,” Mr Park tells his wife. This demeaning attitude makes the class conflict so evident. Also, the use of stairs plays an integral role in the film. The Kims live in an semi-basement apartment at the start of the film away from the apartment of the Parks which is situated at a height. The Kims have to take the stairs to reach their home. There are stairs inside the house of the Parks one which goes to their bedrooms, while the other going downstairs where the Kims start residing. Evidence of the social divide has been depicted beautifully with the usage of this prop.
Timed at 2 hours and 11 minutes, the film makes you wanting for more. At no point does it feel like a stretch. It makes you think long after you have watched it. This is a situation which occurs everywhere, be it any country of the world. This is what made the film special for me. The honesty of storytelling cannot be hidden by the language barrier. Appreciation and accolades will eventually reach to you from all parts of the world if it resonates with the people. The right blend of emotions, ideas and themes make Parasite a perfect watch.
Bong Joon-ho, in his acceptance speech at the Globes declared: “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” This resonated with me throughout the duration of the film. And it will with you. Go enjoy this one this quarantine. Recommended.