Parasite ★★★★

Part of My Silk Road Challenge (Korea)

This dark comedy thriller from writer-director Bong Joon-ho has shot right to the top of my favorites by this extremely inventive filmmaker. It has a wonderful balance of humor and hustle, with four lower-class family members, the Kims, helping one another leech off a wealthy family of four, The Parks.

Stand-out acting by all involved is led by Song Kang-ho as out-of-work driver Kim Ki-taek, with Jang Hye-jin as his wife, the former hammer-throwing champion Kim Chung-sook. Their daughter Ki-jeong (Park So-dam) is skilled in graphic arts, and son Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) is good at English, despite no university education. Folding pizza boxes in their semi-basement apartment is their only source of income, and they aren't very good at it.

However, good fortune comes to the Kims when Ki-woo's buddy Min-hyuk (Park Seo-joon) arranges for him to tutor affluent high school student Park Da-hye (Jung Ji-so). Her mother Choi Yeon-gyo (Cho Yeo-jeong) is a rather simple woman and her father Park Dong-ik (Lee Sun-kyun) is very busy as the CEO of a high-tech company. Soon Ki-woo sets it up for Ki-jeong to provide "art therapy" to the girl's little brother, Park Da-song (Jung Hyun-joon). And not long after that, sis comes up with a way to get their dad a job as the Parks' chauffeur.

The only barrier to taking all the Parks have to give is long-time housekeeper Gook Moon-gwang (Lee Jung-eun). But there's a way to move her out and replace her with mom, too, so the entire Kim family is employed. Of course, we know trouble is coming just as surely as kimchee at a Korean feast. And Bong provides a twist in the middle that nobody will see coming, as well as a climax to take our very breath away.

The film won the Palme d'Or at Cannes by unanimous vote of the judges. It has been nominated to the Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film, and the box office has already rewarded the $11 million production with $121.8 million in revenues worldwide... Bong's most lucrative film to date. I'm not going so far as many Letterboxd colleagues to declare this a five-star masterpiece, but it is a superb film you will want to see before the Awards season hits its stride... this is sure to win a lot of hardware between now and the Oscars.

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