Parasite (2019) Review

Image : HanCinema, Parasite (2019)

Image : HanCinema, Parasite (2019)

Ethan Kaufman

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Bong Joon-ho’s new film is the best of the year, and is nothing short of an absolute masterpiece.

Living in a semi-basement apartment in Korea, the unemployed Kim family struggles to survive. However, when Kim Ki-woo finds a job as an English tutor for the daughter of the wealthy Park family, the Kims seize the opportunity by conning the rich into letting them live a desirable life. Now in this illustrious estate, how long will it take the Kims before greed and class discrimination threaten it all?

One thing that stands out about this director, best known for 2013’s Snowpiercer, is that he’s in complete control of every element of this story. Parasite is an impeccably written film and anyone who watches it can vouch that’s one of its greatest strengths. It’s astonishingly funny, which makes for an immensely entertaining experience. Each line is witty, a quality that only rewards the audience.

The narrative progression is great as well, with the pacing on point and everything feeling realistic in the bounds of this story. It reaches some insanity in the third act but specific plot points were set up previously, so it doesn’t just come out of nowhere.

There are 40 minutes in which the protagonists have to make their way out of a house without getting caught and I’m struggling to think of a better sequence this year. It’s the perfect mix of thrilling suspense and hilarious humor. On one side you have some astonishing amusement as ludicrous events unfold to keep the Kim family from slipping away. On the other side you marvel at the equally ludicrous solutions they think up.

Cinematography and production design are some of the most overlooked aspects of the filmmaking process, but Parasite pays so much attention to detail. The basement the Kims initially live in has disgusting walls and floors as well as a profoundly thin hallway. The Park household has excessive empty floor space, all of it nicely furnished.

The uneven class is also subtly brought up in the dialogue, with the wealthier characters complaining about such little things as what marbling counter surface they don’t like, when the poor characters would be happy to have any if they could afford it. And the shot composure is excellent, utilizing long takes, angles, and playing around with exposure to make each scene as effective as possible.

The performances were stellar all around, with outstanding line delivery and a couple of brutal reactions in the more emotional parts for good measure. Things get pretty crazy by the end, but each character is portrayed in a way that feels grounded in reality. Every reaction seems appropriate given the development up to that point, and a large piece of that is because of the acting. Nobody in particular exceeds anyone else, but only because every actor and actress is on the same level of greatness.

A simple review will never be close to doing this movie justice, but it’s in the elite group of films so high in quality that it is almost difficult to write about them. It’s extraordinarily challenging to write a review without giving away any plot points, but restricting oneself when talking about this is extremely beneficial. Going in without expectations or knowing much will make your watch much better, as it will fully allow you to be absorbed into this story and be completely stunned.

Parasite is truly a cinematic treasure, not only from its fantastic writing and suspense factor, but its ability to legitimately captivate the viewer in a way rarely ever matched.

★★★★★

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