Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Movie Review: "Parasite" (2019)

Director: Bong Joon-ho
Year: 2019
Rating: NR
Running Time: 2 hours, 12 minutes

A family living in poverty cons their way into working for a wealthy family. Just as they think they "have it made," unforeseen circumstances throw a wrench into their plans.

Woo-sik Choi, Kang-ho Song, Hye-jin Jang, and So-dam Park in Bong Joon-ho's "Parasite" (2019)
"This isn't the plan." (Image Source)
If you are not familiar with South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho's work, we highly suggest you get acquainted with him. He offers a unique perspective and a strong voice across many genres of film. His latest directorial effort, "Parasite," is a darkly comedic horror thriller that he wrote with first-time screenwriter Han Jin Won. It tells the story of the Kim family, who lives in poverty struggling to get by in a basement apartment. One day, the family's fortune changes when Min (Park Seo-joon), a university student and friend of the family's college-age son Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik), offers him a unique opportunity. Min is about to travel abroad, which will leave his job as an English tutor for the daughter of the wealthy Park family vacant. With Min's recommendation and a few forged documents from his sister Ki-jeong (So-dam Park), Ki-woo gets the job. It isn't long before the Kim family hatches a plan to infiltrate the Park clan and get the entire family employed with them. Just as things start looking up for the Kims, unforeseen events put the family's newfound livelihood at risk.
So-dam Park remembers a jingle in a movie still for "Parasite"
"I can't stand people who cross the line." (Image Source)
There has been a lot of buzz surrounding "Parasite" ever since it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival where it took home the Palme d'Or. Needless to say, we were excited to see this one. Now, film festival-generated buzz doesn't guarantee we will like something or not. In fact, historically, we have been disappointed and/or unimpressed by past Palme d'Or winners, but that is certainly not the case this year. "Parasite" is a winner. We were enthralled by Bong Joon-ho's twisty-turny narrative from the moment it began. The film examines subjects like income inequality, class, and poverty in a dramatic and horrific but stunningly beautiful, radiantly crafted way. It looks at the stark difference between the wealthy people in the big houses who live in luxury that take what they have for granted, and the poor people who fight for scraps while living in basement apartments barely knowing where their next meal will come from. Bong Joon-ho explores the vast difference between how the rich view the world, how they treat people, and what they find inconvenient. It shows how one event might simply ruin a rich person's day but could be detrimental to a poorer person's life and/or livelihood. The narrative is urgent and on-point, an ever-evolving script full of biting, cunning dialogue. It's scary how good Bong Joon-ho can combine different genres into one masterwork so effortlessly. There are a host of brilliant performances to go along with his stellar story. We think that Kang-ho Song, a mainstay in Bong Joon-ho's filmography, is one of the most underrated, underappreciated actors on the planet. He can say more with one single, solitary glance than most actors can in their entire careers. He undoubtedly gives one of the best male performances we've seen all year. In fact, all of the actors across both families are fantastic here. Woo-sik Choi plays an intelligent son who hopes to use his newfound opportunity to springboard him on his way to higher education with precision and ease. So-Damn Park gives a layered, incredible performance as Ki-jeong, a daughter who can put on an act like no other and is a whiz with computers and photoshop (JESSICA JINGLE FOR ALL THE AWARDS). Hye-jin Jang is the Kim family matriarch and former track and field star who is barely getting by but is still quick with a quip. Yeo-jeong Jo is astounding as an absent-minded, vapid, slightly unstable, high-strung, easily manipulated mother that is willing to throw inordinate amounts of money at whatever problems come her way. Lee Sun-kyun is a shallow, inattentive workaholic with a seemingly endless source of income. Every single actor in "Parasite" nails it and helps create a perfect storm full of tension, uneasiness, hilarity, and unpredictability.
"Parasite" (2019) movie scene showing Yeo-jeong Jo standing shocked in the staircase of her lavish South Korean home
"You have a lot to learn about people." (Image Source)
We absolutely loved "Parasite" and have fully immersed ourselves in the #BongHive. Believe the hype. This is a film everyone should seek out because it is one of the best, most flawless films of 2019. We'd even go so far as to call it a masterpiece, a word we think has been thrown around too liberally as of late. Go in knowing as little as possible and let Bong Joon-ho take you on a ride you won't soon forget.

My Rating: 10/10
BigJ's Rating: 9.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.6/10
RT Rating: 100%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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