I love my Asian films. So, when I heard that Bong Joon-ho’s dark comedy drama Parasite was the first Korean film to have won the Palme d’Or award at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, I knew that this was a film I had to check out.
Parasite (Gisaengchung, 기생충) follows the lives of two families; the extremely rich Park family and the severely poor Kim family. Despite being from two different social classes, the lives of these families intertwine and form a symbiotic relationship, hence the ‘parasite’ title. The more that the Kim family insert themselves into the Park family’s lives and household, the less control and discipline the Kim family maintain to keep their scam covert.
It’s not often that a film surprises me, thrills me and keeps me on the edge of my seat, but Parasite is an exhilarating ride; breathtaking and suspenseful with many twists and turns. While being extremely entertaining, hilarious and serious at the same time, Parasite also highlights the inequality in South Korean society and social discrimination.
Every character has their own sin and motive, and with all the ridiculous and insane ventures that the Kim family attempt to skilfully pull off to an unbeknownst Park clan, you can’t help but feel for the Kims, hungrily wanting more to their lives than just surviving in their shabby semi-basement apartment. Even if you believe they’re going about things the wrong way.
While the entire cast are impressive, the actors who play the Kim family are especially great; Cho Woo-shik as Kim Ki-woo, the first to infiltrate the Park clan as a tutor, Park So-dam as Kim Ki-jung, who pretends to be a strict art teacher and Jang Hye-jin as Choong-sook who moonlights as a housekeeper.
But it is Bong Joon-ho’s constant muse Song Kang-ho who steals the show as character Kim Ki-taek, the father of the Kim clan and unemployed driver. Song Kang-ho’s fierce performance is so impressively equipped with Bong Joon-ho‘s incredible storytelling, that I was rendered speechless long after leaving the cinema.
Parasite is captivating, stressful, intricate, shocking and fucking brilliant. I strongly urge you to see this clever South Korean film while you can, because if not, you’re seriously missing out. Parasite is one of the best films I have seen of 2019 and one that will be very difficult to forget.