This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Daniel Cruse’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
It is interesting to me that both Parasite and Us have through lines commenting on the naivety and ignorance of the upper class to the plight of those quite literally below the poverty line. Each film addresses the idea that a capitalist society creates a situation in which the poor must claw their way to the top through infighting in order to ascend, and both movies do so by way of a metaphor that puts the lower classes literally beneath the upper classes. There was a lot of thematic overlap that made for a really interesting double feature.
Parasite is truly just one of the most unique movies I’ve ever seen. The craft is immaculate, the acting is wonderful, it is funny as hell while also emotionally compelling, thrilling, and incredibly subversive. The movie transcends any one genre and blends together elements of comedy, drama, thriller, etc. etc. to create a perfect storm of storytelling. It well earned every single award it took away last night.
The movie presents such a delightfully nuanced take on capitalism that few films with similar ideological sentiments have been able to match on any level. It presents a situation in which everything is shades of grey as opposed to black & white. The Parks are not evil, they do not act with malice and they generally seem like very nice people, but they’re ignorant and naive to the plight of the working class and especially the lower class. The Kims are not entirely lawful good and certainly do some things that we as the audience might interpret as cruel, but we still sympathize with them. Even the housekeeper and her husband exist in this moral grey area as antagonists in the story who also function as the other side of the coin that the Kims have engraved themselves upon. They are victims to the discrepancy in wealth too and they also garner sympathy from me as an audience member.
A lot of discourse online has tried to pin down who the “parasite” is in this story, is it the rich or the poor or a mix of both? I say none of the above, the parasite is not a particular person or group of people but rather the idolization of materialism and wealth that motivates nearly every selfish decision made by each character in the movie. They’re not villainized on a personal level because they are not inherently bad, but the pursuit of wealth makes them do things that they normally wouldn’t or arguably shouldn’t do.
Now this isn’t to say that the entirety of the wealthy class act ignorantly but without malice, as there are definitely many many people in the upper class who willingly and actively fight to keep the bottom 99% away from the luxury they’ve acquired. But Parasite presents a story in which none of the characters are wholly good or bad to my eyes and I love that decision. It’s a true ensemble piece where I had some attachment to each and every person on screen and I felt like I understood where they were all coming from in a way that is difficult to pull off with this many characters.
I could go on and on about this movie but to boil down everything else I can say about it very quickly, the cinematography and score and editing are also all phenomenal, it is one of the most beautiful films of the decade, everyone should see it, and it is a masterpiece that deserves every bit of acclaim it has received.