Bong Joon Ho’s “PARASITE” is a Russian Doll in Film Form

January 10, 2020

This film is about a poor South Korean family that infiltrates the excessively lavish, opulent household of the Park family one by one. Through sharp wit, sheer confidence and mind games, the film never quite allows you to believe that this is a relatively easy task, but rather paints the infiltrators as masters of their craft. The tone of the first half makes heavy use of raw, dark comedy, but by the second half, director Bong Joon-ho takes you by the shoulders, until you lose track of who you are or what year it is. It repeatedly took my breath away until I was simply left winded in awe. The element of surprise for the first viewing of this film is crucial, and therefore I will avoid going into to much detail about the plot. It’s one to be discovered at the cinema, to process and pick apart on your way home, and probably over the next few days after.

 

"PARASITE" uses the South Korean class divide as its narrative base, and the title sets the premise that we are about to encounter characters who will latch onto a host and feed off it. Yet, even though we obviously assign the role of “parasite” to the family that has seamlessly and criminally infiltrated the wealthy household, once they have become employed, they are not particularly concerned with any further conniving. Apart from the occasional comment from Ki-Woo (Woo sik-Choi) about legitimizing his place in society through university, marriage, and eventually earning a comfortable living, the family is wrapped up in their day-to-day roles. It is the central, smallest of the Russian dolls of the plot that truly takes on the full meaning of the title.

 

There are so many delicate touches to this film that echo the larger scale of things, such as the wealthier characters picking up a specific smell on the individuals they have let into their home, “a basement smell”. This smell becomes a class signifier, and a potential sign of danger to the Parks.

 

From the Parks residence of surreal wealth, minimalism and convenience to the harsh extreme reality of the basement apartment and its vulnerability to fumigation and floods, the storytelling power of just the settings themselves is enough to entice and entrance you throughout.

 

This film is a feat of the best form of filmmaking in its editing. It is also graced with stupendous acting from each cast member, and has a plot so rich you want it injected into your system. I couldn’t recommend this film to be seen in a cinema more, so please do yourself a favour and go experience the shock, horror and pleasure of "PARASITE".

 

 Image: Parasite, Allocine.fr

 

 

Edited by Alexia McDonald, Head Digital Editor

 

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