Parasite ★★★★★

Much of the delight in watching a Bong Joon-ho film is caught up in experiencing the careful tightrope all of them walk between tone, spectacle, and artistry. Although two of Bong’s previous movies, The Host (2006) and Snowpiercer (2013), are among the highest-grossing features in South Korea, it would be just as inaccurate to dismiss the Korean auteur’s films as blockbusters as it would be to label them pure arthouse sensations. With Parasite, Bong Joon-ho has deservedly become the first Korean filmmaker to win the treasured Palme d’Or, one of the highest possible achievements in cinema. A masterpiece equal parts darkly comic and tragically poignant, Parasite is perhaps the 49-year-old director’s finest work yet, crafted with razor-sharp wit, political anger, and genuine heart alike.

In the broadest of strokes, Parasite concerns the unexpected entanglement of two families on opposite ends of the socioeconomic spectrum. We predominantly follow the first family, an unnamed and mischievous nuclear unit living on the bottom floor of a shabby apartment in a shabby neighborhood. They are comprised of Ki-taek (frequent Bong collaborator Song Kang-ho), his wife Chung Sook (Jang Hye-jin), and his two twentyish children Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) and Ki-jung (Park So-dam). When we meet them, they are living the glamorous lifestyle of folding pizza boxes for a living and holding their cell phones up to the ceiling in hopes of leaching WiFi from their upstairs neighbors. Nevertheless, they seem content with their financial hardship, evidently happy just to be in each other’s company.


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