Review: Parasite

Director: Bong Joon Ho
Parasite is showing at the Loft January 28-30.

It is tough to write about Parasite without giving things away. As soon as you see it, you want to sit down and talk with your friends—but if I talk with you, my friends, I will be cheating you out of a chance to go on the ride. And you really need to go on the ride. Oscar-nominated director Bong Joon Ho discusses class struggle with two families—the Kims, who live a life of poverty pinching what they need when they can get it and the Park family, who lives a wealthy life with big concerns about things that aren’t really important. The Kim family slowly entwines their lives with the Parks, setting up a surprising series of events.

This film is smart yet very on the nose. One family is rich and one family isn’t and everything makes that clear. In case you miss aspects of the plot, the design brings it home with color pallets for both families, the fabric choices of their costumes, the food that is eaten, and up to the clear sky vs the extermination spray. The film is engulfing but not subtle.

On this ride, the audience goes through twists and turns, leading you to ask yourself “what kind of film am I watching?” That is due to Bong Joon Ho’s ability to deviate from the normal genre. The film is not just one thing. It is not a grifter film, nor a dark comedy, nor a thriller. Moments feel like Get Out (without the weird science) and other moments feel like a family drama. Bong Joon Ho has strayed from a traditional genre film, leaving the audience unsure who to root for and who to hate. The stakes are high but because it is a genre-bending film it doesn’t give you a traditional hero and villain. The Kim family are pulling a con but honest in their struggle. The Park family is gullible and clueless but never cruel.

The acting is superb by a cast that deserved to win Best Ensemble at the SAG awards (the first foreign-language film cast to do so). Song Kang-ho is fabulous as the beaten-down Mr. Kim who still always sees where his family could be instead of where they are. His face often gave more than his dialogue.

You don’t need to read a lot about this film before you see it. In fact, please don’t. It is best to take it all in knowing and expecting very little. The film won the Palme d’Or (highest prize) at the Cannes Film Festival and is now the second Foreign Film in a row to be in the running for Best Film at the Oscars. It’s just that good.