“Parasite” is a must-see movie

By Jovani Contreras

Staff Writer

In this review, there will be minor spoilers!

The attention to detail and consistency in Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” is extensive. Every inch of the Kim family home looks worn, tattered and filthy. The setting encapsulates the reality of how poor laborers live in South Korea. We truly see how unfortunate the Kim’s living situation is when Ki-Woo and his sister Ki- Jung frantically scour their home for a corner that gets free Wi-Fi reception from a local cafe.

Jobless and penniless, the unmotivated patriarch Ki -Taek and his supportive wife Chunk Sook struggle to make ends meet in the slums of South Korea. To make a living in their half-underground apartment the Kims fold pizza boxes for delivery service.

One morning, sitting on the floor of their musty sub-basement home, the Kim family folds boxes as they notice public fumigation is covering the low-income neighborhood in smoke. Ki-Jung turns to her father and says, “Close the window.” Ki-Taek replies, “Leave it. We’ll get free extermination.” Ki-Taek shifts his attention back to folding pizza boxes as their home is filled with smoke in hopes that it will fumigate their insect-infested apartment.

Family is the one thing that keeps the Kims together through their struggles. As the lowest class of citizens, the Kims need to stay close in order to survive.  

Korean actors Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-Kyun, Cho Yeo-Jeong, Choi Woo-Shik and Park So-dam portray their characters with such raw emotion that viewers feel. Kang-Ho Song’s performance specifically stood out to me as he portrays his character (Ki-Taek) with commitment and flexibility.

The tempo of “Parasite” is well-calibrated, when watching I felt like I was surfing the story the way the editing, camerawork and sound design carries you from moment to moment. The pacing made the bold shift from the build-up to the climax exactly right.

The family gets a break when the son Ki-Woo, played by Choi Woo-Shik, is given a business opportunity to pose as an English teacher for the rich Park family. From there the Kims plot to pose as unrelated, talented individuals to each become employees of the Park family. The Kims rehearse and prepare together at home to memorize their roles, “talents” and identifications before becoming close with the Parks.

Stunning cinematography and visual effects show the dramatic differences of the Park’s mansion in the hills versus the Kim’s basement. The setting is a metaphor because the Park’s physically live higher, as they are in the hills, along with socially because they belong to a higher class.

Jon Hoo wanted to show the growing wealth gap in Korea. The message of how lower class citizens work to support the rich while only the wealthy reap the benefits is a reoccurring theme in “Parasite.”

The Kims gain the trust of the Parks and each member of the family is employed by them. Ki-woo is an English tutor for the family’s daughter; Ki-Taek is the family driver; Ki-Jung plays an art therapist and Chung-Sook is the housemaid. But “Parasite” starts to quickly take twists, secrets are revealed and the film quickly turns from a comedy to a tragedy.

After scamming the wealthy Parks for months, the Kims’ plan begins to fall apart as a revealed secret changes the lives of both families forever. My heart raced as I watch the “airtight” plan crumble. The film unexpectedly became a suspenseful horror. The edge of my seat was where I watched the remaining part of the movie.

Bong-Joon Ho’s writing flips “Parasite” from a clever comedy to something entirely unexpected. This flip in the plot made the movie feel like a great roller coaster. My eyes sped through subtitles, anxious to see how the film ended. 

Bong works the camera to create suspense during the final scenes. Hong Kyung Pyo shot the beautiful cinematography for the film that kept me engaged until the end of the two hours, twelve-minute thriller.

“Parasite’s” ending is mind-boggling; it wrapped the movie together and was a more than satisfactory finish to the film. The ending of the Korean thriller is necessary to watch in order to understand the full film.

 I agree with the critics: “Parasite” is virtually flawless. The Korean film has accumulated impressive, well-deserved ratings by viewers with an IMDB score of 8.6/10, a Rotten Tomatoes score of 99% and a Metacritic rating of 96%.

“Parasite” won a Golden Globe for best foreign film and is currently a nominee for “Best Picture” in 2020, but I feel the film has been overshadowed by mainstream movies like “Joker” and “The Irishman.” The Korean thriller has only grossed $33.4 million in the United States, mainly because it’s a foreign movie in a foreign language. While the other films rightfully deserve the nominations, in my opinion, “Parasite” deserves the Oscar.

Featured Image (at the top of this post): This shows the cast of “Parasite.” PHOTO CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons

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