Parasite ★★★★★

It's hard going into a movie new enough that it's not been distributed outside of its home country yet wins the Palme d'Or and quickly rises to the 6th spot on this site's Top 250 list. What makes it especially interesting though is that it's a Korean movie, which by now has been known for being a little quirky to Westerners. I've watched Korean cinema for some time now and some can feel a little over-hyped by those unfamiliar with that landscape. My biggest fear was that the same would happen to Parasite, but I'm very thankful to say that it plays into its industry's quirks but then transcends it.

The first thing that stands out to me is how incredibly clean, slick, and smooth everything is. The camera work is gorgeous, with so many roving shots that keep things interesting and slowly show us what's initially hidden from view. This works really well considering that one theme of Parasite is the way that signifiers of wealth keep us from being aware of actual wealth disparity, not because we want to or are bad people but just because it's easier.

The second thing is how much this movie displays the tropes of Korean cinema without ever crossing the line but instead blending them together until it's all one cohesive mix. Sometimes Korean movies irk me by having tonal shifts so abrupt it takes me out of the experience. Here I never felt that way at all and was so impressed at how the "genre-shift" moments never distract, making the movie feel like it really earns its uncategorizable nature.

The third thing is how balanced all the characters are, with no one ever written as an obvious hero or villain. Everyone is largely equal in all but wealth, it's just that which side of wealth they lie on begets different poisons. Many movies that tackle this issue end up being too heavy-handed, with little nuance for us to actually chew on. Here it's almost a little too light; well maybe not too light, just not easy to denounce anyone really. The family with wealth are oblivious, naive, and generous thanks to the cushion that this wealth affords them; the family without are manipulative, destructive, and determined in their approach to attain it. Everyone is complex and it'll come down to the viewer to actually decide who's good in their eyes and who's not.

"You know what kind of plan that never fails? No plan. No plan at all. You know why? Because life cannot be planned. Look around you. Did you think these people made a plan to sleep in the sports hall with you? But here we are now, sleeping together on the floor. So, there's no need for a plan. You can't go wrong with no plans. We don't need to make a plan for anything. It doesn't matter what will happen next. Even if the country gets destroyed or sold out, nobody cares. Got it?"

Parasite feels like it strikes a great balance between social commentary and Korean revenge thriller. It's so technically impressive that you might get caught up in it without ever really engaging with its themes, but it's also very rewarding should you choose to. It's very accessible and works as straightforward entertainment while also asking the viewer to think on questions that aren't leading.


[Joint-review with Hay on All That Film here
▹ spoiler discussion here]

[Ranked – Bong Joon-ho]

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