Bong Joon Ho's Thriller 'Parasite' -A Harrowing Look at Class and Social Status
By: Jalyn Mayer, November 4th, 2019
Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite has been very well-received by critics and fans alike since its initial release at the Cannes Film Festival on May 21st, 2019. It received the coveted Palm d’Or and has a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite being shown at only three theaters during its opening weekend in the United States, the film earned $376,264, the best per-theater opening for a foreign-language film.
Parasite centers around the Kim family, a poor yet close-knit household striving to get by in South Korea. Both parents are out of full-time work, and the family has to fold pizza boxes for a local chain just to get by. However, Ki-woo, the son, receives an amazing opportunity to tutor the daughter of the wealthy and esteemed Park family.
Soon, through various schemes and manipulative actions, the entire Kim family begins working for the Park family in various positions. The Park family is oblivious to the Kim family’s artful con, and they are not aware that any of them are actually related to each other. While the Kim family soon reaps the benefits from their ploy, their actions soon catch up to them, leading to mayhem and violence.
This film is seamless, each element adding to the film’s fluidity and grace. The pacing is rhythmic. When the Kim family first infiltrates the Park family, each scene slides into one another in a legato sense. However, as soon as their facade begins breaking down, the rhythm rapidly switches to staccato, each crack in their illusion feeling more poignant than the last. Adding to this, the characters feel realistic and alive.
The grown children of the Kim family cram into the bathroom in order to reach a wifi signal. Ki-jeong, the Kim family daughter, learns her role as an art therapist to the Park’s young son through several Google searches. The Kim family drinks and laughs together during a rare night at the Park residence when the family is away. The visuals in this film are crisp and intentional. Joon-ho is able to effortlessly create a film that simultaneously feels relatable yet horrifying.
Parasite touches on themes of class and social hierarchy. The conditions in which the Kim family lives are so drastically different than those of the Park family. The Park home features stunning architecture and the Kim home features a drunk man peeing near their window every night. Even though the Kim family is intelligent and hard-working, they can’t break into a higher class until they commit fraud. These themes couldn’t be more pressing in today’s society. A major talking point among hopeful Democratic presidential candidates is the disappearing middle class due to the hoarding of wealth by millionaires and billionaires. This is echoed in Parasite. The Park family has more money than they know what to do with while the Kim family is constantly struggling simply to exist.
Boon Joon-Ho’s thriller Parasite is a must-see. Not only is it artful and creative, but it is also stunningly relatable and interesting throughout the 132-minute runtime. It has a strong and relevant message, but it never feels forced.
Parasite is currently playing in theaters nationwide. For more information visit: www.parasite-movie.com.