This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Nick J’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I respect the craft. But I don't care.
The hype train really crashed and burned for me on this one, I tried really hard to not factor it into my thoughts or my rating, but I'm really sad that the #1 narrative feature film on Letterboxd has replaced character writing, the art of the twist, and emotional depth with "muh class warfare though." It's not like classism is a bad topic to cover, just look at films like "Bicycle Thieves," "99 Homes," or take your pick at one of the many enthralling true white-collar crime documentaries such as "Fyre" and "Enron: The Smartest Guys In the Room." Even Bong Joon-ho's excellent previous work "Mother" dips into classism to help wind up the wallop that film unloads on you. But this film? Ambivalent at best and lazy at worst with its elements.
I couldn't care less for a single character, and that's almost impressive considering how many there were to juggle. No one really goes beyond their level of wealth or intelligence, the only emotional latch to really have is one's sense of justice and believing that people should get exactly what they deserve (AKA, this film is for people who love to complain about the Kardashians while believing they're meant for better things beyond working the Burger King drive-thru). The tone never really finds its footing between biting satire and seething emotion. And the twists reek of being rather Shyamalan-like, violently twisting the story to kill any interest in the currently unwinding threads and then stepping on the gas to speed past anywhere you thought the film was going. It just builds on more semi-metaphorical layers of class divides before it can properly parse through its current path. "Parasite" doesn't feel like it's building to anything; it smashes your current lukewarm dish to replace it with another until you don't feel satisfied with your meal nor hungry for anything more.
I don't know what "Parasite" was trying to say, if anything at all. It's shallow sadness porn at points and shallow "kill the rich" ethos at others. It wants to make you feel sad for the poor and angry at the rich, but also makes an argument that the poor are conniving and so rotten that the stench of their actions can never be washed while the ambivalent rich should be stabbed for having noses. Metaphors are fun when no one factors them into the literal script, aren't they? "Parasite" feels icky, the exact film made by people for people who frequent r/ABoringDystopia, hide behind communism on Twitter because they want a yacht ASAP and want to mass-murder people they don't like nor agree with without understanding breadlines suck, and stayed in bed on the day they promised they were going to raid Area 51. It's just nihilistic platitudes with an okay script, great cinematography & set design, a score that has much to be desired, and very poor pacing to justify "Damn, this party's getting crazy! Having fun yet?"
In the ending of Vittorio De Sica's "Bicycle Thieves," after a barreling story where the protagonist Antonio reaches his lowest point, he and his son Bruno walk into a crowd, visibly shaken by the events that had transpired, and slowly fade from the audience's view in a crowd. It's terribly depressing seeing the two fail their journey and disappear like ghosts, but there's an unwritten "final act" where the two still have their whole lives ahead of them. Today was a failure caused by systems out of their control they were powerless to do anything against, but they still have tomorrow as far as I'm concerned. It is the epitome of the human condition: existence is pointless, fruitless, infuriating, unfair, hopeless, insignificant, but FUCK IT we have tomorrow. "Parasite" feels like a heckler standing in front of me going "NOPE Antonio and Bruno should kill themselves cause they didn't kill Alfredo lulz PogChamp." Justifying why you put the knife into someone does not cut out what you lose as a person putting it in there and what's going to determine when the knife stops. And, as it turns out from watching this film, justifying why you put the knife into someone isn't all that interesting.