Parasite ★★★★★

There’s already so much hype and praise swirling around Parasite (with seemingly no real backlash in sight at present) that it almost feels a bit redundant to try and add to the maelstrom, but, for real you guys, Parasite is one of the best movies of the decade. It’s a crucial, affecting, and utterly hilarious satire that perfectly encapsulates all of the absurdity, tragedy, and just general awfulness of the horrific historical moment that we are currently living through with stunning clarity of purpose. It is not a film that is particularly interested in subtlety of message; at one point, rich people’s literal shit rains down and floods the homes of a poorer neighbourhood, which the film’s main characters are than forced to swim through. But as one learns once they familiarise themselves with the filmography of director Bong Joon-Ho (something I personally did after seeing this, at which point he became one of my favourite filmmakers), he is not an artist particularly given to subtlety. And frankly, that is for the best. Because Bong is one of the greatest filmmakers working today, and he has such a perfect grasp of tone, theme, and how to create and control those through the language of cinema that the directness of his films and their messaging doesn’t read as obvious, but rather, exhilaratingly urgent. And Parasite might be his most accomplished and urgent film yet (for the record, at time of writing I have seen all his features except Barking Dogs Never Bite). Just to mention a few highlights of technique, there’s the way the camerawork switches between the geometric, precise framing of the lives of the rich Parks and the messy, uncontrolled handheld of the poor Kims, and then the way that the controlled formalism of the former is so shockingly ruptured by one particular plot development that I won’t spoil (you will notice this review divulges very little plot information – this is partly because I am bad at plot synopsis, but it’s also because the less you know about Parasite’s plot going in the better). Then there’s the film’s glorious use of classical music, that in concert with the often strikingly, for lack of a better word, non-classical images, adds to the absurdity and irony of the film’s proceedings, but also pulls double duty by giving the film an overwhelming sense of operatic intensity.

And then…Well, I could continue to go on and on about the film’s various triumphs of cinematic craft: the taut pacing, the perfect balance of the tragic and the comedic, the film’s incredible cast. But I’d just be repeating what others have surely said much more eloquently. Maybe this write-up is redundant in that sense, but I just couldn’t say nothing at all about a movie that affected me as profoundly and viscerally as this one did. There hasn’t been a more eloquent, or more entertaining cinematic study this decade of the ludicrous, and ludicrously cruel world we live in. Parasite is a film that I, like many others I think, will treasure for a long time, and it’s one that I cannot wait to see again.

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