It’s like dipping your toe into a lake then suddenly you are immersed deep underwater
The day I finished my last literature exam I thought it would be quite some time till I had to do literary analysis of that depth. But here I am having just watched a properly incredible film that has caused a slight headache and a mental roller-coaster. An exploration of society’s class discrimination through two contrasting families and how this in itself builds and destroys them, this is a film that demands proper dissection. This is my take on the comedy/thriller Parasite by Bong Joon-ho.
Having procured four Oscar Awards this 2019 film definitely deserves its credit. The film begins in the half basement of the poor Kim family, the family is seen to make a living of making pizza boxes and use free wifi from near-by shops. We see the introduction of the only son Ki-woo visited by his friend who works as an English tutor for Da-hye, the daughter of the wealthy Park family that lives in a beautiful mountainside home. Because he is going to learn abroad Ki-woo’s friend asks him to step in as Da-hye’s tutor until he returns, this is a pivotal moment in the film because from then on, the connection and integration of the Kim family with Park family is made and it’s also there were the sparks of brilliance by Bong Joon-ho and the cast comes to life.
Bong Joon-ho throughout the movie is constantly polarizing and connecting themes, motifs and even atmosphere. In the “first half” of the Korean movie one could not be blamed to think of this as a light-hearted comical film, portraying the dire straits to which the poor would take to make something of themselves and just how much the upper-class depends on the lower-classes labor (this in itself being a contrast). The quiet difference between the majestic, mountainside and artistic Park home one has to drive up to contrasted with lowly, desolate, half basement Kim home one has to walk down to aren’t forced upon you but become clear indicators. Then in a moment like a door revealed, the plot does not change into something else entirely no it deepens, like looking down a shallow ditch but when you jump in it becomes a deep and dark chasm. Joon-ho still explores the contrasting nature and ridge between the poor and the rich but now it’s more profound, now it portrays the desperation of the poverty-stricken, the tragedy of society’s class structure in that while it is very much possible to make it out of the barren plains of poverty and up onto the valley of wealth the reality exists that it does not always happen because the gap between the two keeps on getting wider and wider and the cycle keeps going.
Every action, sentence, scene and prop serves a purpose in the film, statements like “they are nice because they are rich”, to “people who ride the subway have a special smell”, and the foreboding thunder just as drama strikes. Bong Joon-ho’s intention in the film is for all to see but still has it’s complexities.
There is a beauty to which this plot transformation occurs because it is not entirely shocking more than it is and I quote “metaphorical” because near the end of the “first half”, there are little moments that make you aware of a certain sinister nature. They lead up to the moment were it reaches it’s dark depth that is then maintained through the rest of the film. Just as well because in the intense and chaotic “second half” there is a certain dark comedic aspect that adds to the stark, raw and blatant truth that greets you at the end of the film.
So it is a dark movie were, after all the comedy and madness the end gives a bleak truth about life and society, an ending that makes your ears ring and your heart heavy. That’s what makes Parasite that fascinating film it is, the honesty it gives from such an unlikely event based on such a simple thing as the poor working for the wealthy and how the wealthy need the poor, from maids to drivers. It’s not make-believe, nor is it biased, it’s a series of events beautifully written and executed then given to you so you can make of it what you choose to. I suggest you take on the slight headache and go on the mental roller-coaster. Enjoy the thriller/comedy that is Parasite.