Original Title: Gisaengchung
“They’re nice because they’re rich.”
Midway the movie, the servant Ki-taek(Song Kang-ho) tells his wife Chung-sook(Chang Hye-jin) how the family they serve is “rich yet nice”. Giving a rational argument, Chung-sook opposes his thought and replies with the above line. Impacting much both me and the husband, this line broadly sums up the central theme of Parasite.
The poor family of Kims – parents and two grown up kids – does permeate as different servants into the house of wealthy Parks family. Both families are dwelling in peace and making merry, until the force of reality powerfully hits their contrast personified worlds, making Kims realise how mere ingress into the lavish Park house doesn’t weigh down their class difference with Parks.
To portray this tale of societal reality, ‘blunt personification’ is the path traversed by the screenwriters Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won. First, we are introduced to the poor Kims who live in a cramped house located even lower than the probably lowest road in South Korea. To use the nearby cafe’s WiFi, the father Ki-taek asks his son Ki-woo(Choi Woo-sik) to check for signal near the topmost level in their house – a toilet seat. In the next sequence, they are shown dependent on smoke of bug-repellent smoke emanation trucks to make their house mosquito free. A prominent sequence in the movie feat. these poor souls in rain, taking the way back from Park house to their home – not a single time are they shown walking up the stairs or road. The Kims just keep on treading far down to finally reach their real downtown world, high on filthy smell.
In sharp contrast to this, the Park house is located uphill the usual roadway. These elitists personified are never shown looking downward in the movie – even if a strange sound or shadow is perceived. Crossing the boundary of a servant-master is especially discouraged out loud by the father, and nasty comments are coldly passed on the “subway odour of old radishes” of the servant class. Another noticeable contrast delineated is about the idea of the holiday of both families – the Parks choose to go for camping under the stars and bonfire, while the Kims celebrate their dream of living in the materialistic grandeur of the Park house. The former loves rain for how it brings clean air and greenery, while the latter hates it when the rain renders them homeless as their subway house fills up with sewer water.
Though this comedy turned horror drama in based in South Korea, the appeal of it feels so universal that the setting can be easily switched to London or New York. This holds true also because the narrative has little to do with Korean locales, and unfolds mostly in the magnificently suspicious Park house. Despite this short stage, the movie doesn’t reflect claustrophobic vibes for a second – much to the credit of cinematographer Hong Gyeong-pyo, who shoots the mysterious house of horrors perpetually in wide angle frames, making way for one to suspect every possibility of eeriness, even in the unbelievably happy situations.
Enrichment the already rich craft of the movie is done by the first-rate acting performances. Lee Sun-kyun, Choi Woo-shik, Cho Yeo-jeong, Park So-dam, Lee Jung-eun, Chang Hye-jin, Jung Ji-so with their excellent skills ensure that the movie excels in every genre that protean Bong explores to portray classicism. The standout act for me here is by Song Kang-ho as Ki-taek, for his act managed to impact me everytime with his apt expressions ranging from happiness to helplessness. I eventually agreed with his perspective of the events – though everyone in the movie has a metaphorical ‘Parasite’ within his soul – as we see people of both class, irrespective of their own societal status, exploiting each other to self’s demands of need or greed.
In a runtime of 132 minutes, Parasite surfaces as vividly entertaining as it does all the perpetual social commentary sans noise. Just another brilliant Bong Joon-ho movie, it borrows its morality from his previous Okja(2017) and Snowpiercer(2013). Every portrayal is loud, every situation is clear – until bong wants it to be. What initially looks like struggle drama seamlessly turns into a black comedy, soon tripping on a road of horror, to eventually emerge as a brutal reality of society. The climax clash is brutal, and that sight of bloodshed is unsettling, but Bong’s straightforward intentions are clear right from the first scene. Sheer faultless and sharply edited, Parasite never feels stretched, keeping me gasping for more of this multi-genre winner. Though many movies of this year are tagged as a must-watch and unavoidable an experience, Parasite for me easily triumphs them all!
Watch its Trailer here: Parasite (2019) Trailer | YouTube
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