Parasite ★★★★

Parasite is to Bong Joon-Ho what Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown was to Pedro Almodovar, a commercial breakthrough accessible to a wider audience than his earlier fare. Is it as good or better than his previous works? In some ways yes, in others no.

What’s always intrigued me about some of his best works are the shifting dynamics of his characters and the unlikely turns his stories sometimes take. In Mother, nothing is what it seems and characters you at first empathize with turn out to have their dark side. The same is true with Bong’s last film, Netflix’s Okja.

In Parasite, which adapts elements of two other Korean films, the Handmaiden and Hide and Seek, and also Wes Craven’s 80s horror comedy People Under the Stairs, three class levels are depicted; the poor, middle class and the upper middle class, its not always easy to empathize with the characters as much as in Ho’s earlier films. The rich computer designer and his wife seem one dimensional and naive, the lower class people who come into their lives, devious advantage takers. The middle class, however, are given a bit more depth, but they don’t really come into the picture until the halfway mark. Until then the film is primarily dialogue driven.

Not to give too much away, the story concerns a family living in poverty who slowly entrench themselves as workers in an upper class family. But things don’t go quite as planned, and spin out of control in some times hysterically funny, yet believable circumstances.  At times it feels episodic and overly orchestrated, but as the film goes on it picks up pace and suspense, and there are some truly touching scenes

It’s a very good film, but not necessarily one of my favorites of Bong’s films. Definitely worth a look for those familiar with his filmography and those who are first time watchers of his work.

Paul Gordon liked this review