Parasite is the best movie of the year. A haunting masterpiece that’s one for the ages. South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon Ho's incredible film receives a five-star review from me.
Parasite (Gisaengchung / 기생충) is an urgent and timely film contrasting the inward struggles between the wealthy and the poor. A character study on our society, Director Bong Joon Ho’s film (Okja and Snowpiercer) is a master-craft in writing and directing. Parasite is darkly funny, twisted, and will get under your skin. This social commentary is fully gripping from beginning to end. A modern day Hitchcockian tale that lingers in your soul. It's some of the best writing I've seen in years. You won’t know what hit you — it’s dazzling and aesthetically energizing. Parasite is a pitch-black commentary on class division. Meet the Park Family: the picture of aspirational wealth. And the Kim Family, rich in street smart but struggling daily in the slums of the city. Kim Ki-taek (Song Kang Ho), his wife Chung-sook (Chang Hyae Jin), son Ki-woo (Choi Woo Shik), and daughter Ki-jung (Park So Dam) live in a small semi-basement apartment, working low-paying jobs and struggling to make ends meet. Soon this will all change, but will it be by chance or by fate? I'll leave that up for you to decide. These two houses are brought together and the Kims' seize on this grand opportunity.
The Kims' slowly start working their way into the Parks' Family affairs. Ki-woo becomes Park Da-hye's (Jung Ji So) tutor and also begins a romantic relationship with her. Ki-jung poses as an 'art therapist' and is hired to teach the youngest Park son, Da-song (Jung Hyeon Jun). Mr. Kim is hired as a chauffeur for Park Dong-ik (Lee Sun Kyun). Mr. Park is a CEO of an IT company. And Chung-sook is hired as the housekeeper for Park Yeon-kyo (Cho Yeo Jeong), Mr Park's wife. This sophisticated scheme keeps the Kim Family enriched in a luxurious ecosystem provided by the Park Family. That is until the plan goes wrong. Nothing lasts forever and soon the Kim Family will be threatened to uphold their dominance in the world of the wealthy. Finally, there's actor Lee Jung Eun's haunting performance, as the Parks' previous housekeeper, which I won't spoil. This multi-layered storyline will keep you on the edge of your seat from the beginning until the end. Bong crafts a marvelous story that exceeded my expectations. I was in sheer awe with all the twists and turns and kept wondering what would happen next. The acting was superb, the directing was perfection, and the storytelling is one for the ages. Yes, each actor deserves an Oscar nomination, especially; Song and Cho's performances. Song's acting metamorphosis from ordinary family man to a raging avenger was striking. While, Cho's lofty provocation will hit you in the gut. Cho achieved to ability to have her character be both sympathetic and clueless at the same time. This was a masterclass in acting.
There are a lot of interpretations that blossom out from this wholly original movie. Parasite's main themes are between class conflict and social inequality. Bong's film also critiques and reflects on modern capitalism's role in our world. With that being said Parasite doesn't have the distinctive bad and good characters within the film. Instead, the Kim Family and the Park Family both have bad and good qualities that Bong explores. The Kim Family are trying to make ends meet and surviving from day-to-day. The Kims' are good people, but the inequality they've experienced leads them to scheme their way into the Parks' Family affairs. The Park Family are also nice people, but they're oblivious to the struggles of the outside world apart from their own. When it rains, the Parks' celebrate it as a blessing in disguise getting rid of the pollution. Yet, the Kims' suffer the consequences with the rain literally trickling down the roads and class lines to the poorer areas and flooding their home. Bong uses these techniques as a double-edged sword to examine and critique the division between class status and simply coexisting. Parasite also examines themes of colonialism and imperialism and their impact on our world. In the movie, Da-song is obsessed with "Indians" and he owns inauthentic replicas of Native American-themed toys. Bong has stated that "the Native Americans have a very complicated and long, deep history. But in this family, that story is reduced to a young boy’s hobby and decoration... That’s what happens in our current time: The context and meaning behind these actual things only exists as a surface-level thing." Another metaphor that stuck out to me was the Parks' own home structure felt like a living and breathing organism. There's also a balance in power and fate in Ki-woo's symbolic rock.
I have no problem with saying that Parasite is the best movie to arrive in 2019. It's a film-going experience that refuses to fit into any box — there's drama, comedy, suspense, horror, and tragedy. Parasite had its world premiere at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival on 21 May 2019, where it became the first Korean film to win the Palme d'Or, and the first film to do so with a unanimous vote since 2013's Blue Is the Warmest Color. It was selected as the South Korean entry for Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards, Bong's second selection after 2009's Mother (Madeo). Parasite is a razor-sharp film that cuts deep and makes you reevaluate our society's norms. As of December 2019, Parasite has grossed $20.4 million in the United States and Canada, and $105.1 million in other territories (including $70 million from South Korea), for a worldwide total of $125.5 million. Parasite's U.S. opening weekend grossed $376,264 from three theaters. Its per-venue average of $125,421 was the best since La La Land's in 2016, and the best-ever for a foreign-language film. From there, the film expanded to 33 theaters in its second weekend, making $1.24 million, and then made $1.8 million from 129 theaters in its third. The film made $2.5 million in its fourth weekend and $2.6 million in its fifth. The film's theater count peaked in its sixth weekend at 620 when it made $1.9 million.
Continuing to hold well within the following weekends, making $1.3 million and $1 million. In its tenth week of U.S. release, the film crossed the $20 million mark (very rare for a foreign-language film), making $632,500 from 306 theaters. Word-of-mouth has been astronomical for this movie and I am incredibly happy Bong's movie has been doing so well. Parasite is also leading in wins this Awards Season. As of now, the film has won 40 awards including AFI's Special Award, NBR's Best Foreign Language, HFA's Hollywood's Filmmaker of the Year (Bong Joon Ho), and the Palme d'Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. Parasite was also nominated for a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and three Golden Globe Awards, including Best Director and Best Screenplay. This is a movie that I hope will be acknowledged by the Academy and I hope could take home the crown of Best Picture this February. Parasite is a haunting masterpiece that’s one for the ages and needs to be seen by the masses. This aesthetically-energized movie is a wild rush of adrenaline and anxiety. A bitter blood of class rage that will linger in your mind after the final shot passes. Parasite dares to challenge you. Bong Joon Ho and his entire cast and crew can take a bow. Job well done.
Parasite is rated R (Restricted). For language, some violence and sexual content.
The Best Film of 2019 is Directed by Bong Joon Ho
The top-notch cast: Song Kang Ho, Cho Yeo Jeong, Lee Sun Kyun, Chang Hyae Jin, Choi Woo Shik, Park So Dam, Jung Ji So, Jung Hyeon Jun, and Lee Jung Eun.
"It's so metaphorical!"
For Your Consideration:
In Their Own League
Mashley at the Movies
Mike, Mike, and Oscar
Next Best Picture
The Movie Oracle
Untitled Cinema Gals Project