Telluride 2019: Parasite
Parasite by definition is ‘an organism that lives in or on an organism of another species, or a host, and benefits by deriving nutrients at the other’s expense.’ Bong Joon-Ho’s newest film Parasite takes everything in that definition and applies it to class structure in South Korea.
Opening the film, we meet a lower class family maniacally running through their basement level home in search of free WiFi from neighbors and area businesses. The family is folding boxes for a local pizza chain in hopes of gaining some kind of income. Ki-Woo Kim (Woo-sik Choi) is visited by a family friend and is given an opportunity to bring sufficient financial income, changing his life: He’s asked to take over his tutoring job for a wealthy upper class family’s daughter.
Without any educational background, Ki-woo’s sister forges graduate documents from a prestigious college. After receiving the job from the Park family, Ki-woo comes up with a plan to help his family. Mrs. Park shows a drawing to Ki-woo, and mentions how artistic her son is. Ki-woo obliges but tells Mrs. Park her son could benefit from some assistance. Ki-woo lies and tells Mrs. Park that he knows someone who can help with art therapy for her son. However, that person is his sister.
Ki-woo’s sister, Ki-jung (So-dam Park), accepts the job and swindles more money out of the family. One by one, the brother and sister create devious plans, plans which lead the audience to believe they’ve done this before, to get their entire family working for the Parks under aliases until their infiltration is complete. Before we know it, Ki-woo and Ki-jung’s father is the Park family driver, and his mother is the housemaid.
But, with Bong Joon-ho as the director, there are twists and turns, and ones that shall not be mentioned here. There are expected horrific revelations up the ante which reveal how class takes over your mind and body to the point of violence. With the addition of Hye-jin Jang and the ever amazing Kang-ho Song (Thirst, The Host), Parasite will leave you in shock and awe.
Parasite is smart; not only does it exemplify and observe class on the surface but also with its scenery, script, and characters’ wishes and dreams. It’s the full package and it’s hilarious. Little jabs at the United States, one liner jokes, and drunken family nights fill the audience with laughter until the plot steps it up a notch, or two. It’s amazing how Bong can make his audience feeling one thing, then flip the switch to make them squirm in their seats. Parasite is Bong Joon-ho’s most mature and concise film to date with the perfect amount of gore and bloodshed to satisfy fans of Korean cinema.