Parasite

Haven’t actually rewatched this, but I was responding to someone who thinks Cho Yeo-jeong’s role, and by extension performance, shallow (and wonders why the accolades aren’t concentrated more on Park So-dam), and it kind of turns into a love letter for Cho, so might keep it here as well. Context: that someone loves Amanda Seyfried’s performance in Mean Girls just recently:


...This is gonna sound weird, but your arc from liking Seyfried a lot to full-on love her the best out of the whole cast, and your praise of her, really strikes me in how similar Cho's performance feels to me, and probably to a lot of people as well. Now, their characters are different, and Cho has a lot more airtime, but they occupy a similar function, purposefully made a "type" within their stories for the film's most satiric barbs (teen girl airheaded-ness there, rich elite obliviousness here). They both have, as you dismissed of Cho's role, "zero conflict across the film, zero complex emotions"; I'll get to "zero chances to scratch beneath the surface" later on.

In term of finding balance between two extremes of satiric comic exaggeration and real human emotions, Seyfried pushes the former to its upper limit and the latter bubbling casually underneath, and it's very effective (your "tender and human" for Seyfried in that thread encapsulates that latter aspect perfectly). Now, Cho's balance feels a lot trickier for an actor, because the film is relatively much more grounded in realism, so her exaggeration (gasps, accented English phrases that are indicative of certain Asian pretension) has to be modulated just right, hovering above the middle of both extremes, pointed enough to draw bloods but never allowed to let fully loose. And the real human emotions she has (that deep worry for her son, the shame of not running things smoothly enough for her family), though not complex, have to run deeper too. IMO she accomplishes the variations of both extremes for this tightrope of a role splendidly, which brings us back to your "zero chances to scratch beneath the surface". I think the point is that Cho makes a real human being out of such a pointedly "simple" character, so that when juxtaposed with what's going on around her, that simpleness becomes layered, insidious, and indicative of a whole rotten system.

We have a Thai saying here for many Thai elites who, through black-and-white thinking, help shape and push our political landscape to such a place that a military junta can take power, for over 5 years now. Then they wash their hands of the whole thing to go back to their affluent lifestyle while the classes lower than them suffer the consequences. The saying classifies them as: "I don't care for politics anymore" hiso (hiso = high society people). Cho's performance feels very remarkable to me in that she captures the whole elite obliviousness of that ethos so succinctly and so layeredly, by modulating that one note she has to perfection. Mrs. Park is such a 'nice' human being whom we can't really hate for her minor "sin" of oblivion, but we hate what she and her type of accomplices represent, whether intentional or not, by accumulating those minor sins into a big oppressive system.

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