After my second time watching this film, I can confidently say that Parasite is undoubtedly the best movie of 2019. 1917? Once Upon a Time in Hollywood? They pale in comparison to director Bong Joon-ho’s perfectly crafted masterpiece. If the film doesn’t win Best Picture at the Oscars, it will be more of a reflection of Hollywood’s monopoly and discrimination against non-English language films, rather than actual merit.
As the first South Korean film to be nominated for Best Picture and Best Director, the film features some of the nation’s biggest names: Bong Joon-ho, a critically acclaimed director and screenwriter ever since the release of The Host in 2006. He meticulously balances a mix of genres and moods, encapsulated in Parasite’s combination of dark comedy, drama and thriller. A frequent collaborator, veteran actor Song Kang-ho plays the father and husband of the family at the center. Along with Choi Woo-shik, Chang Hyae-jin and Park So-dam, the actors animate the movie as sympathetic but impeccable con artists.
A fun, energetic but shock-inducing movie, Parasite displays a complex yet rich commentary on class and social immobility. Systemic inequalities and self-perpetuating ideologies are brought to light as the Kim family inserts themselves into the upper class Park family’s lives—as tutors, a chauffeur and a housekeeper.
Despite the surrealness, the film as a whole ends up feeling altogether too close to home. My friend, Colgate senior James Chaplin, commented after viewing that it made him focus more on the “reality of the situation” and the truths it told. He added, “it almost wasn’t even about the film anymore.” The film let us escape into the world of the screen, but it also helped us see ourselves and reflect on our surroundings through a different lense.
I applaud Bong Joon-Ho, and each actor (every single one was absolutely perfect in their role) for this astonishing work of art. The best part about this film is that it is an intricately-made movie that draws the viewer right into the thick of it, making for an incredibly thrilling ride. The reality of disparity is made surreal. To watch this great masterminded web of lies and deceit unfold and crumple in the winds of unexpected change is both magical and terrifying. I can confidently say that this is one of those “perfect” movies, without any shadow of a doubt.
Parasite is not just a movie—it’s a film. It is a film that asks more of the audience and poses deeper questions. Unlike Gloria and her friend for whom it hit too close to home, this hit home. As someone who grew up and lives in the Philippines wherein this social and class structure in the movie is part of everyday life, the themes, archetypes and absurdities in the movie begged me to run and tell my friends to watch this masterpiece.
Yet, despite the serious tone of the film’s subject matter, most of the movie is funny. Except when it’s not, and Joon-ho knows when to pull back from absurdity to reality—where there was once humor, now there is dread. We laugh at the moments of extreme disbelief at the absurd, at the mind-spinning situations and drama. Yet the absurd is dwarfed by reality. It’s the first movie in a long time that shocked me with a kind of fervent energy, asking questions that beg to be pulled at, taut on a fine string that unravels while revealing more and more, a string that begins with: Who is the parasite?
Watch it as soon as you can, run if you have to, but don’t miss it.