This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
StoryJunkie’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Here is a different take on this film. It might just be that I am the only person who did not care for this movie and before you start throwing all sorts of hate my way, I ask, are you the type of person that only listens to opinions that are the same as your own? If you are not that person... read on.
Parasite is a movie that has lots of great things going for it. Its cinematography is beautiful, its acting is capable, and its art direction is amazing. But taken at face value alone and not on its obvious metaphorical undertones, the characters are a real issue with this film and maybe to a lesser extent, the script.
There are two families at the center of this movie, “the poor family” and “the rich family” as I said obvious undertones. The movie asks us as the viewers/audience to sympathize heavily with the poor family. I find this problematic, given that in real life the poor family would be the villains or the antagonists of this story.
The story opens with everyone in the poor family trying to figure out how to get free Wi-Fi. All four of them: the son, the daughter, the wife, and the father are taking their time at what seems to be late morning. None of them are in a hurry to get to a job. The father is introduced still snoring away with no urgency to go to his vocation or perhaps a possible job interview. There is no hustle in this home. I immediately bristle at these people, and there overt negligence to real life responsibilities. As somebody who works two jobs, I can’t abide lazy people. So needless to say I am already primed to dislike the poor family. I wake up early, to go to a job, that pays me money, so I can buy Wi-Fi.
As the title of the picture would allude to these people are the Parasites, they feed off of everyone else. So why do they need our sympathy? Why do we care about them? If you’re like me, you don’t. There in lies the obstacle to me liking this film.
Next we are introduced to the rich family. Who as far as I can tell have three crimes that they commit. The first one and the most egregious is; they are rich, having things the poor family does not makes them by that virtual alone the antagonists of this story. The second one is they are naïve in general, especially the rich wife. Thirdly, they are somewhat condescending towards the poor family. Now, I ask the reader, are these crimes reason enough to murder the rich family? They are not out and out mean. They are not evil. The father seems to be a self-made man who worked for his wealth. He doesn’t seem to have victimized anyone to get to his place in society. However, the movie wants us to hate them, because...
...they are rich?
Right at the beginning, the poor family’s son gets a job tutoring the rich family’s daughter under false pretenses. Then the poor family’s daughter gets a job with the rich family again under false pretenses. She then proceeds to get the rich family’s driver fired, through a really heinous falsehood, making way for her dad to become the new driver. Together they are all able to get the mother hired by replacing the rich family’s very capable housekeeper. And we are supposed to be rooting for the poor family? So we are rooting for the bad guys? There is plenty of media in pop culture that make you want to root for the bad guy. Everything from Breaking Bad to Taxi Driver. Yet, Parasite fails to make clear the motivation of its main characters. Walter White’s motivation is hubris or power. Travis Bickle’s motivation is companionship, desire or a sense of belonging.
In Parasite the father of the poor family, from what I can tell, seems to only be motivated for a life of ease. As a father of three, my motivation is to provide a good life for my children so I have no sympathy for the poor family’s patriarch and really no understanding of his actions, least of all his final decision when he stabs the rich Dad. He takes a life because the rich guy was condescending to him? That makes no sense, that’s not a reason. If we all just killed our bosses because they were mean to us, or thought we smelled funny, this world would be a much darker place.
I guess what I’m trying to get at is that this film’s sympathies are misplaced. The family that we should be feeling sorry for is the rich one. They are systematically victimized by the poor family. As a person who deeply believes in integrity and taking responsibility for one’s actions, I feel that this movie is very problematic, making the poor family out to be the victims only because they are poor. For most of my life, I have been poor and I have never blamed being that way on anyone else but myself. If this was the way of the world it would be a much better place.
This film wants you to feel that the poor family are the victims solely based on their economic status and therefore placing a sort of justification on their actions. Yet, there is only a mediocre, half-assed effort by any of them to make an honest and good living. No one in the poor family is handicapped there has not been a death that has put them in a depressed state. They are all smart and capable. Therefore what is their excuse for not finding work, honest work?
Life is hard and we are all victims of it. We can all have malevolence or circumstances put us on our ass. We cannot, should not, blame faceless people that reside in the upper echelons of the economic food chain for our problems. We must take the slings and arrows of life, arm ourselves and rise above them. Then ascend to greatness based on sheer determination. The answer is not to victimize someone else.