Parasite ★★★★½

Bong Joon-ho, the sui generis South Korean auteur behind unclassifiable modern wonders like “Barking Dogs Never Bite” and “The Host,” has always made films that refuse to fit the narrow parameters of any particular genre. Each of them is built atop a bedrock of comic violence that Bong uses to support the weight of the heavy stories he places on top of it, but simply categorizing “Snowpiercer” as science-fiction or “Memories of Murder” as a mystery would require you to ignore the rare magic that holds them together, and deny the controlled instability that allows them to keep changing shape before your eyes.

The director refers to his furious and fiendishly well-crafted new film as a “family tragicomedy,” but the best thing about “Parasite” is that it gives us permission to stop trying to sort his movies into any sort of pre-existing taxonomy — with “Parasite,” Bong finally becomes a genre unto himself. Ditching the sci-fi elements that have defined his recent work in favor of a more grounded (but no less eccentric) story of life under the pall of late capitalism, Bong’s latest offers another compassionate parable about how society can only be as strong as its most vulnerable people.


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