Review: Parasite (2019)
It stays with you for extended periods!The Geets:
An unexpected surprise to end 2019 with an excellent representation of class systems in today's society. This superb tragi-comedy resonates with the harshest of critics as it illustrates excellence in cinematography and filmography with a meaningful narrative crafted by the eccentric Korean Director. His masterpiece is one of the parasite-host relationship between the rich and the poor and how the societal institutionalisations make it very difficult for these 2 groups to co-exist with mutual interests.
The narrative follows the poor Kim family as they slowly inject themselves into the rich Park family through conning and manipulating. What follows is a haunting and comical depiction of what happens as the parasites (Kims) infect the rich household of the Park family, taking advantage of the rich family's wealthy privileges, as well as doing anything necessary (such using sexuality, deception, conning and false accusations) to become closer to the Park family. I absolutely appreciate Bong Joon-Ho's visual artistry in this film showing how effective each shot is in capturing the contrasting interests of the 2 families. The Kim's tendency to lie and deception is heavily contrasted by the Park's overt trust in their guests. The host's (literally and figuratively) reliance on a poorer family to get by for seemingly meaningless tasks is an excellent study of class system, implying just how strong the gap between the 2 classes are and the perceived notions between both.
Bong Joon-Ho succeeds in illustrating the deeply saddening issues affecting society all around the world. The widening gap between the poor and rich is visualised in every single shot, even when the Kim's have the Park's house to themselves. The Kim's resorting to alcoholism, messy eating and untidy nature at the Park's mansion shows just how parasitic they can be. The transient and subtle inclusion into the Park's livelihood through upholding servient tasks is a beautiful and equally disturbing thing to watch, as it quickly switches into first gear with complete utilisation of the rich family's resources for parasitic growth.
The excellent narrative and concept of parasitism is beautifully interweaved with visual cinematography which is plentiful throughout this unique masterpiece, Perhaps the most visually impactful moment is when the Kim family have to silently escape from the Park's residence in a manner to escape trickery and deception. They are successful in being exposed as they descend from the highest mount of the 'riches' through a downward stairs into the now-flooding slums where they originally reside. The excellent use of stairs to depict the hierarchical social order of uniformity and natural order of 'things' is a visually insightful, showcasing just how easy it is to fall from grace into normality Their flooded poor house also illustrates the current state of housing, as they are drenched in rain and stained by sewage water, exposing their true selves. Once again, the creative input into visual representation of parasite-host differences is an eye-gouging experience for the receptive viewer.
The subtleties and nuances of their impoverished state is overtly illustrated by their current living conditions, but also transiently depicted by the small things they do to get by, such attempting to find a Wi-Fi connection. This scene alone shows just how desperate they are to get connected with the normative lifestyle, to be entertained by normalcy, something they are not privileged with. It is in fact this desperation that leads then to successfully con the Park family and, unfortunately, be exposed by their own wrong doings.
I also appreciated how the director embraced a further complication to the plot with the inclusion of the former housemaid and her secluded husband within the secret basement of the rich household. They ultimately become the hyper-parasitism, feeding on the parasites (Kims) and manipulating their perceived powers for self conservation, indicating devout trust in the Parks. They become the policing force between the rich and the poor by adding another level of complexity which is enthralling and disturbing to watch. The fragility of one's psyche is palpable to theatre audience as they slowly understand the frustrations and resolve for any form of normalcy in a mostly biased society. Ultimately, the Kim's involvement with the basement member becomes their ultimate undoing, bringing hidden motives and identities to the surface, re-establishing the black-and-white nature between the rich and the poor.
I also liked how the Director focussed on the intrinsic nature of the Susook rock gifted to the Kim family as an item of wealth and fortune. However, the Kim's continual denial of it's intrinsic value undermines their succession into a better place in society, instead using the rock was a weapon to harm their opposition. Its misuse is perfectly illustrated as a poor attempt at executing their offenders is turned into the offender using it against the son as a sort of symbolic representation of karma. If you mistreat something, it may mistreat you. This ultimately leads to the terror-inducing final act, where the harsh exposure of the deception results in various deaths at a kid's party.
The true horror lies in the final act as truths of deceptions, secrecy and trickery boil to the surface leading to a volcanic eruption with scenes more haunting than many Horror movies. It is quite interesting how a largely multi-genre movie (depicting thriller, drama and comedy) quickly evolves into a horrific final act with lasting adverse effects. One can visualise this scene biologically, as the parasite's location (Kim's mistaken identities) is determined by a drug/imaging (the housemaid's husband) within the host (The Parks). What ensues is protective response from the parasites as they continue to hide from the intrusion, doing everything necessary to stay intact, but ultimately flushed out of the host and humorously disgraced for their vile functionality.
The real success of this movie lies in how effectively it embraces the natural order of society and in philosophy regarding these contrasting concepts of class systems. It presents a narrative that is so rich and vivid that it creeps within your skin and make you feel uneased simply for representing the middle-to-high class order. The perceived ignorance of the poor class creates a haunting effect that lasts for days as well as imply how barricaded these normative society is. At the same time, this film shows the loopholes that the poor can capitalise on to infect the rich and live long within to take over their livelihood, mostly with disastrous results. Ultimately, it is the perfected acting performances and choreography that steals every scene with intelligently crafted dialogue. The profound effectiveness of something as small as smell perception is enough to showcase just how powerful some of the subtle scenes can be.
Despite the excellent performances, palatable dialogue, palpable suspense and tension and haunting scenery, this movie does fall short in concluding the narrative. Instead of leaving much of the craziness that unfolded at the party in our minds it instead decides to take an adverse direction, shifting the focus back on the Kim family in innocent light. I felt like this completely undermined everything that happened before, signalling that the rich are at fault, something that feels astounding. As a missed opportunity, this movie decides to end in a state of hope for the Kim family reunion in the future, an ineffective romanticising of the parasites themselves. This may be harsh criticism but it just seems normal to craft a narrative that makes us feel sorrow for the Kim family's failed attempt at financial security.
Nonetheless, This movie will stick with many people for many years as it brings something so uniquely spectacular that it cannot be revamped or reproduced in the future. It is a cinematic success that compounds fear in our minds with every haunting and subtly nuanced scenes, showcasing Bong Joon-Ho's craftmanship for creating immense effect from little.