This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
MPieper’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
BJH's real achievement here is making a movie that has no subtlety about what it's doing, but that also is pretty complexly layered... No easy answers, no easy targets or easy victims... Lingering semiotic devices that are still burrowing through my brain (the rock, the rain and sun) to God-knows-where...
But the main complexity comes from Parasite simply retaining, even through the satiric, parable-like lense being used here, its humanism. This one could have easily felt like an essay on class warfare, but BJH never lets the socioeconomic issues outweigh the basic emotions of his characters. Even when the inevitable (and predictable from the beginning) violence commences, it does so not along lines of class:
- When Mr. Kim attacks Mr. Park it is no concern of class. It is because the prior night's eavesdropping had irreparably destroyed his sense of value
- When the man from the basement emerges to incite violence, it is a simple matter of revenge, not of personal advancement.
The only wellspring and aim of agency in the final conflict is human dignity. Money be damned, they felt dehumanized.
I think that's the secret sauce. Compassion. Parasite moves beyond class warfare as an issue and chooses to focus on the human debris that is left in its wake. In the end we understand the Parks and the Kims not as individuals with unhindered agency, battling in a zero-sum-game, but as families, picking up their station and role through mere imitation and inheritance. For both families, the conflict seems less like a war and more like a family business. It's a heartbreaking reality that we're left with.
Relatedly, that conversation between Ki-Woo and his father on the gym floor at night... Damn... That's gonna be like a paperweight on my heart for a while. And it may give this another half star as it sits there.