Release date: 2019 | Country: South Korea | Running time: 132 min | Genres: Comedy, Drama, Thriller | Director: Bong Joon Ho | Starring: Kang-ho Song, Sun-kyun Lee, Yeo-jeong Jol | BBFC 15
Boon-joon Ho’s latest masterpiece is thematically very important, exploring themes not often present in Hollywood such as class mobility and the flaws of capitalism. It is centered on two families: the poor Kim family and the rich Park’s who they trick into believing they are qualified to work for them. The entire film is metaphor heavy, with references to this in the repeated line “this is so metaphorical.” An example of this in Parasite is the use of geography to represent class levels through their physical position in the world: the higher up the people the higher their position in society.
The Kim’s semi-basement home represents the inescapable purgatory in between the heaven above ground for the upper classes and the hellish living conditions below ground for the film’s least fortunate characters. These three levels of society are all explored in depth in this film, leaving the pivotal question of it’s deliberately obscure title unanswered: Who is the parasite?
This is made especially effective in the film’s location design, with the Park family living in an open-plan modern mansion, and the Kim family in an evidently highly populated street literally in the shadow of the upper classes. These locations draw parallels in their large horizontal windows to the outside world: the Kim’s view generally of a man urinating, the Park’s a pristine garden.
There is a slowly building pervasive darkness present throughout the film, occurring both comedically and disturbingly. Parasite is a masterfully crafted yet accessible film, sure to get any newcomers into South Korean cinema.
by Jack Weir, Winner of the Kyle Chronicle Best Film Review competition 2019