I’ve got two tickets to Parasite
I had no idea what to expect from Parasite going into it and I think it is best to watch it that way. I even chose the image from its French poster to accommodate this write up because I believe the North American one gives too much away. The film is in Korean, but nothing of significance is lost in translation as long as you’re comfortable with subtitles. And like director Bong Joon Ho’s most well-known film, Snowpiercer, there are a few metaphors that you do need to go along with to not get caught up in the technicalities. So, if you are confident that neither of those will bother you, and all you need is a little push from me to see it, then stop reading and do it now!
For those that need a little more, keep reading…
The Kim family lives in a small basement apartment, working temp jobs that barely cover expenses. Through a friend, the eldest son, Ki-woo, gets a job as a tutor for the daughter of a wealthy family, the Parks. Ki-woo poses as a university student to get the job, and eventually, his entire family is posing as unrelated skilled workers. They are each hired by the Parks: Father is the driver, Mother is the housemaid, and the daughter is an “art-therapist” to the Parks’ son, Da-song.
When the Parks leave on a camping trip to celebrate Da-song’s birthday, the Kims gather in the Parks’ living room to celebrate how successfully they have pulled their con. It is then when Moon-gwang, the Parks’ former housemaid, arrives at the front door asking to be let in; she was swiftly let go by the Parks, and she claims there is something she left behind in the home.
Since Mama Kim is the only one who is currently supposed to be present, she lets Moon-gwang in while the rest of the family hides. Now inside, Moon-gwang reveals a hidden bunker in the basement where her husband has been living while hiding from loan sharks. She begs Mrs. Kim to keep her secret until the rest of the Kim family accidentally stumble into view. Now, both parties have secrets they need to keep from the Parks.
Like I mentioned before, there are a few small steps in logic you’ll need to make in order to enjoy the film. For one, the Kims are either lucky how the children bare no resemblance to the parents or this is a bit of a plot hole. Second, if this family is as clever as they are made out to be, how would they not be able to find a better (safer) way out of squalor? And how could they have made the mistake of letting Moon-gwang into the home without the Parks present?
But the film bends reality to keep its metaphors in check. 90% of it takes place in the Parks’ home, where the stairs and floors are made to reflect the divides between those who exist in the lower ends of the Southern Korean class-system and aristocracy. Yes, it makes no logical sense why there is an industrial electric switch in the sub-basement for every light on the main floor’s stairs. Yes, it was the film’s desire to show a broken down low-class subject worshiping an aristocrat rather than be logical.
The cinematography is brilliant as well. Every piece set – the lighting, and camera angles – are designed to enhance the film’s underlying themes. And the beauty is how you really don’t need to pick up any of it to enjoy it. Because on the surface, there are likable characters and a gripping tale. I could get enjoyment from watching how it easily shifted between comedy and suspense. After an hour in, both Sarah and I tried to guess what would happen next. We were both thrilled to be wrong.
Parasite is #MarsApproved.