Parasite follows the story of the Kim family and their journey to improve their status in life. Ki-woo, the eldest son, is given the opportunity by a friend to tutor the daughter of the well off Park family. From here, Ki-woo realises his family could feel the limited roles of assistance within the house. Together the Kims work together to remove and replace the Parks’ original staff with themselves.
Director Bong Joon Ho tells layered stories of social status and the meeting of classes. This is a theme he continues to consider and explore during Parasite. The drastic differences between the two families and the stereotypes that follow along show the way these two worlds can clash. In a world of silence social cues and expectations, the murky lines are crossed.
Bong Joon Ho creates a cinematic masterpiece of meaning everywhere you look. The most superb example of this is the homes of the three families that are present during the film – the grand Park family home and the sub-basement the Kim family live in. The decision for each setting, each camera view of each setting, shows just how much care Bong Joon Ho took in tell this story.
Another perfect example is the journey the Kim family take from the splendid wonder of the Park to their own dwellings – continuous shoots of the family running down, down, further down until the place they just left was another world away. This further emphasises the differences that bring out conflict. Accompanied with a score from Jung Jae-il, the atmosphere and cinematic language is played so well.
Bong Joon described Parasite as “a comedy without clowns, a tragedy without villains”. This is an entirely apt description. The story jumps between the humour and the horror of the situation. You want the Kims’ to succeed, even as their tactics get creepier and more unnerving. When the plot begins to twist, it is so carefully put together that you find yourself gasping in surprise, sitting on the edge of your seat and wondering just how this could possibly end.
The acting across this masterpiece is incredible. Cho Woo-Shik plays the intelligent and ethically challenged Kim Ki-Woo brilliantly, his talents shown during the more vulnerable moments of the film. Park So-dam, who plays Ki-jung, Ki-woo’s sister, threads the balance of psychopath and careful genius. The stars of the show have to go to the patriarchs of both families – Song Kang-ho (Kim Ki-taek) and Lee Sun-kyun (Park Dong-ik). The chemistry between these two characters as intense and it was in a lot of their scenes that the mounting conflict could be seen subtly increasing.
Dong-ik is a character who demands that the appropriate distance between himself and his staff are kept and Sun-kyun plays this harsh, used to getting what he wants tech CEO with brilliance. In turn, veteran actor Kang-ho plays Ki-taek as someone who knows the social order and wishes to break through – but as the story builds up traction to the ending, you can see the cracks begin to show.
Parasite is a movie that you should experience with as little detail as possible. It makes you feel safe, falling into expected tropes of the genre, and then pulls the rug viciously from underneath you. Bong Joon Ho has crafted a beautifully dramatic piece of cinema that is deserving of every award win it has received.
With each view, the audience are invited to decide for themselves – who is the real parasite?