By Adam Ray Palmer
This is certainly a late review when it comes to the Oscars, but an on-time one when it comes getting people to the theatres to see it.
As you may know by now, Parasite is a multi-Oscar-winning film that picked up the big three of Original Screenplay, Best Director and the coveted Best Picture award.
Let’s be honest, the above sentence is surely enough to make you go see it…
If you don’t know much about Parasite, it will certainly enhance your cinematic experience. I’ll keep the plot short and sweet, and let Bong Joon-ho wow you in the theatres. Parasite is a black modern fairy tale. The Park family are the definition of wealth, whilst the Kim family are affluent in being streetwise and looking out for each other. When a golden opportunity arises to bring these families together, the film ignites.
From start to finish, Parasite is a breath of fresh air. The Academy rarely get it right for me personally when it comes to Best Picture, but they smashed in 2020. Bong has written and directed a masterpiece in Parasite. Focusing on the script first, it’s just about flawless. The passing from scene to scene is effortless, every sequence is deeply thought out and necessary to keep the narrative moving. There’s not a single wasted minute on screen. When it comes to the dialogue, it’s superb between the Kim siblings especially. There are poignant moments of course, but the humorous breaks really help connect the family to the audience.
To compliment Joon-ho’s masterful filmmaking further, his direction, which is now of course award-winning, is everything in Parasite. To describe it in two words; whimsical and powerful. In the opening scene, we see the Kim family in the basement apartment. From his camerawork alone, we immediately know their intended stature in society. As the camera pans, we descend onto the family as we look down on their situation (metaphorically), and then we follow the siblings manoeuvring around their tiny flat, all in one take. We immediately understand their plight. Then, with the Park family, it’s the opposite. The camera follows them up the numerous flights of stairs to their large front room, then we cut to a super-wide angle, reiterating to the audience their wealth. It’s camera storytelling of the highest order.
What struck me about Bong’s directing and echoing his praise for both Scorsese and Tarantino during his accepting speech for Best Director at the Oscars, the Hollywood pair have clearly influenced the South Korean over his career. With Parasite in particular, there’s many nods throughout. One specific scene has the markings of the directing duo to a tee, flipping between both of their characteristics. When Gook Moon-gwang (Lee Jung-eun), the ex-housekeeper, and Geun-sae (Park Myung-hoon), her husband, are dancing together in a nostalgic sequence, it’s the epitomie of Tarantino that merges into a Scorsese take. Moon-gwang and Geun-sae slowly waltz together as the camera hangs back on a wide angle (Quentin) and then the music gets louder as they dance more joyfully as one (Scorsese). It’s so good to see a scene that has components of all these masterful filmmakers in one.
Parasite is, in short, a stroke of genius. It doesn’t have a ‘negative’ to its name. It has quirky filmmaking, a slick script and the acting is second to none. The way the cast flip genres between comedy, drama and thriller is particularly impressive. Song Kang-ho (father of the Kim family), Choi Woo-shik (son of the Kim family), Park So-dam (daughter of the Kim family) and Cho Yeo-jeong (mother of the Park family) predominantly steal the show. I think a couple of the stars deserved a few acting nods on the awards circuit to say the least.
The layers to Parasite is what is most impressive, and engaging. In reality, this is not a film about two families at war, it’s not a comedy about family life, but it’s more a political drama. The Kim family infiltrate the Park family in an underhanded battle for dominance, inadvertently switching the families supremecy. When you think the Park family have the upperhand in the class system, the Kim family have a plan up their sleeves… to destroy the fragile ecosystem between them.
I can’t say many more superlatives. Basically, the film is marvel, a triumph and a must-see. I’ll be adding this to my blu-ray collection as soon as I can.
Cineroom’s rating: 5 stars
Parasite is out now worldwide – certificate 15