Parasite ★★

I saw Parasite in its entirety last night and found it thoroughly unpleasant. The poor are depicted as heartless, self-interested and vicious jackals with no redeeming qualities (there isn't even much love depicted within the Kim family at the center of the film). Each time they receive a paycheck their default is to sit in their own filth and scheme as beer cans and empties pile up around them.

Other than grifting they seem to have no passion or ambition. When they do work they are either cynically phoning it in or doing a poor job. Rather than presenting this as understandable or the natural result of exploitation, Parasite portrays the underclass as lazy, incompetent grifters with an unearned sense of entitlement to wealth.

The depiction of the wealthy Park family is not nearly as unsympathetic. They are somewhat cold, neurotic and quirky, but nothing they do is nearly as awful as what the Kim family does to a number of people of their own class. When it finally comes, the instigating instance of nose-in-the-air elitism that triggers the climax of the film is preposterously trifling next to the barbarity of the Kims in the preceding fifteen minutes.

At one point, Bong Joon-ho explains the awfulness of the underclass with the mother saying, "It's easy to be nice when you're rich." But because we have seen nothing even remotely likable about the Kims, no aspirations no dreams no passions (other than unearned wealth) we are left with the impression that they are poor because they are terrible, not terrible because they are poor. They appear to be genuinely worse people than the Parks, fully deserving their status as basement-dwellers.

Beautiful cinematography and a great performance by Cho Yeo-jeong are not enough to save this misanthropic mess.

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