PARASITE – CINEMATIC PERFECTION

Just WOW is all I can say to start my review of Bong Joon-Ho’s latest masterpiece, PARASITE. You probably have heard of Bong Joon-Ho with films such as THE HOST, MOTHER, SNOWPIERCER and last year’s OKJA. A Korean filmmaker taking the world one film at a time. PARASITE won Cannes this year, it won the Sydney Film Festival and this week Madman Films announced it has become the highest grossing Korean film in Australian history. And holy cow – it is worth the hype. It is bloody astonishing.

PARASITE is out now from Madman Films, it is rated MA15+ and runs for 132mins.

Kang-ho Song, Hye-jin Jang, Woo-sik Choi, and So-dam Park in PARASITE
Woo-sik Choi, Kang-ho Song, Hye-jin Jang, and So-dam Park

BY JASON KING

PARASITE SYNOPSIS:

Ki-taek’s family of four is close, but all are unemployed and the future looks bleak. However, when the son, Ki-woo is recommended by a fellow university student friend for a well-paid tutoring job, hope spawns for a regular income. Carrying the expectations of the family, Ki-woo arrives at the house of Mr. Park, the owner of a global IT firm, where he meets Yeon-kyo, the young lady of the house. The job interview is a success and soon Ki-woo begins work. But very soon, following this first meeting between the two families, an unstoppable string of mishaps lies in wait…

Winner of the Palme d’Or (Best Film award) at the Cannes Film Festival, the Sydney Film festival Official Competition Winner and this week announced as the highest grossing Korean film ever released in Australia this family tragicomedy is the latest masterpiece from Bong Joon-Ho, the director of THE HOST and SNOWPIERCER. PARASITE confirms his position as one of the world’s most inventive and captivating filmmakers. 

Kang-ho Song in PARASITE
Kang-ho Song

CINEMATIC PERFECTION:

With a title like PARASITE, and considering Bong Joon-Ho’s previous films I was expecting some kind of alien invasion story, a nefarious parasite turning people into monsters, or something more akin to THE HOST. Funnily enough Kernel Claire joked to me, as neither of us had yet to see a trailer, “imagine if it’s like a leeching parasite flatmate, and it’s a drama.” We both laughed – and then discovered it wasn’t actually far from the truth haha.

THE LIGHT:

Like most of Bong Joon-Ho’s films it is laugh out loud hysterical until it isn’t and PARASITE sticks to the mould. It’s a delightful look at the class system with extreme low class society leeching and trying to survive off the extreme high class. One family is standing in the back of their family toilet holding their phones high to get a bar of service and the entire family income is coming from folding pizza boxes. The other family has a driver, tutors, maid, a house to die for, and the owner gets highly frustrated when he smells body odour. It shows extremes and it shows them well. They are both likable but you do side with the poorer family in the hope they get away with their grifting scam.

The journey from go to woe is wild, constantly twisting, turning, and shifting your perception of what’s taking place. It manages an unbelievable cacophony of thrills and comedic brilliance, both physically and verbally. It has the situational disaster comedy of a film like HOME ALONE and the dark, quick-witted comedy of FARGO or THREE BILLBOARDS. It’s masterfully clever.

Bong’s observations of humanity are spot on and he likes to find wonder in the absurd. The film is the equivalent of watching people trip over or have their umbrellas blown inside out, he just takes it to a whole new level. In one scene you will see the poor family’s basement apartment flooding in a storm. Their sewerage exploding out of the toilet. The daughters means to fix it is to sit on the loo while poop flies around her and smoke a cigarette. In the worst situations he finds laughter and a lot of light. But then things take a turn…..

Jung Hyeon-jun in PARASITE
Jung Hyeon-jun

THE DARK:

Bong Joon-Ho lulls you into a false sense of comedic security and then he punches you in the face with a nail spiked baseball bat a la Negan. About two thirds through the movie you start seeing everything the poor family has been doing slowly building to an unmanageable point. Will it go too far? They could go to jail, you don’t want them to get caught because then it will bring their entire string of lies and deceit down. But at the same time they have started to hurt people that have lost their jobs etc. It’s a terrible predicament and you don’t know what to think? Perhaps they should back out of it all before it’s too late.

And then just like that is basically turns into a horrific thriller where life and death are at the fore. A particular party has everything come to a head with a few deaths, missing people, bashed-in skulls and even though it is horrendous to watch there is still some humour flickering in the background of the absurdity taking place.

Yeo-jeong Jo in PARASITE
Yeo-jeong Jo

THE BRILLIANT PERFORMANCES:

I don’t really know the actors too well but they all nail their performances with both comic timing, physicality and likeability. Woo-sik Choi you may recognise as the lead in THE LAST TRAIN TO BUSAN and he was also in Bong’s OKJA. The father, Kang-ho Song, has a prominent role in Bong’s SNOWPIERCER and also starred in THE HOST.

Woo-Sik Choi is kind of the lead in this ensemble film, he was the one I bonded with the most. He was in a very precarious position by the end of the film. So-dam Park was absolutely hysterical and I adored the somewhat cluelessness from Yeo-jeong Jo.

So-Dam Park and Woo-Sik Choi in PARASITE
So-Dam Park and Woo-Sik Choi

IN CONCLUSION:

A film that makes you laugh, cry and constantly misleads you while offering a great message and absurd view on the human condition? There is little not to love in the masterpiece of Bong Joon-Ho’s PARASITE. It might have won Cannes, and it might have won the Sydney Film Festival, now will it win the Salty Popcorn Film of 2019? Highly likely.

YOUR CRITIC:

Jason King owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. A movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict he is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 26yrs. 

He believes all it takes to make a good movie is a bloody good story, with a little luck the rest should fall in line. He is getting a little sick of saying “story story story” in his reviews with so much shite releasing in the last decade. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.