Parasite Movie Review
Parasite stars Song Kang-ho, Jang Hye-jin, Choi Woe-shik, and Park So-dam, and was directed by Bong Joon-ho. It tells the story of the Kims, a poor family of four, who develop a plan to insert themselves into the lives of the very rich Park family, with unexpected results. Hype is a double-edged sword for a film. Endless praise boosts people’s interest in a movie, but it also heightens people’s expectations. Parasite is a movie that had a lot of hype surrounding it after taking home the Palme D’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
That hype only increased as more and more people saw the film. By the time the movie made it to my little independent theater up here in Maine, dozens of people I know had given it a perfect score. I always avoid reading or watching reviews until I’ve written my own, so I didn’t know anything about the plot or why people were liking this so much, but I’ve gotta admit that my expectations were really high going into this one. And this movie still managed to exceed those expectations. In terms of the story, Parasite was not at all what I thought it was gonna be. I had seen the trailer a handful of times ahead of other movies and while it isn’t misleading, it doesn’t come close to preparing you for what this movie has in store for you.
The film is a crazy blend of genres and themes and plot points that shouldn’t all work together in the same movie, but somehow do. This is the type of movie that starts as one thing and ends as something entirely different, despite the fact that the film’s closing shot exactly mirrors its opening one. And even though the story and characters undergo such dramatic changes and encounter such insane twists, it never feels jarring.
The story flows through all of its transitions seamlessly, so you don’t even realize how far it’s taken you until you’re already there. I can’t talk about any specifics for fear of spoiling something, but Parasite has got one of the most well-crafted plots I’ve seen in a very long time. Not only is the story interesting, but all of its pieces eventually come together by the end to result in a finale that’s both satisfying and unsatisfying at the same time. In fact, the way everything is put together in this film reminds me of a cross between Hitchcock and Agatha Christie.
It doesn’t cheat. All the clues are there for you to see, but you don’t notice them all cause you don’t even know that you should be looking for them. And even the things that you do actually pick up on don’t mean what you thought they would mean by the end. This is an incredibly unpredictable movie. You might be able to guess how some moments will play out as you watch, but there’s no way of anticipating everything that happens in this movie. This is a film about duality. About class differences, expectations, and secrets. Nothing is what it seems and everybody’s hiding something. Everybody’s pretending to be something they’re not and they all go to great lengths to keep their secrets secret.
The juxtaposition between the two families featured in this movie is stark and this film’s commentary on class differences is very obvious. But despite the seemingly straightforward nature of this movie, there’s so much going on just under the surface. As one of the main characters likes to say, it’s so metaphorical.
The film easily transitions from one genre to the next; at times playing out like a very funny dark comedy before becoming a tense thriller or even a family drama. It’s all about subverted expectations. The characters face circumstances they never would’ve anticipated, but so do we as the audience. The places you think this movie’s gonna go, it manages to deftly sidestep. And while you’re still reeling in surprise of that unpredictability, it throws you a curveball and the film becomes something wholly different.
The camera movement and framing of shots were especially stand-out elements of that for me. As much as I’d love to go more in-depth with this movie, I’ve gotta hold back to keep it spoiler-free. This is definitely a movie that you should go into as blind as possible, but even if you’ve seen the trailer or other spoiler-free reviews, I can promise you that this movie isn’t at all what you think it is. Alright let’s talk about the pros and cons. Pro number one is definitely the well-crafted plot. Watching this story develop and unravel was one of the most satisfying cinematic experiences I’ve had all year.
This movie is full of surprises without being outright twisty and despite the expanses this plot covers, it all flows extremely well and makes sense once all the pieces fall into place. Like I said, this film has hints of both Hitchcock and Agatha Christie without ripping either of them off or being derivative in any way. This is definitely a unique and original movie that’ll keep you on your toes until the credits roll. The second pro is the dark humor. I did not expect this movie to be as funny and entertaining as it was.
The film certainly has its more serious side and the thematic underpinnings have deeper meaning that shouldn’t just be written off, but I found myself smiling quite a bit in the theater. This isn’t really a funny movie in the classic sense, but it manages to blend absurd situational humor with comedy-of-manners to result in some very dark entertaining moments and sequences of events. Not everybody will find it particularly funny, but it really hit with me. On the con side, I really didn’t have any problems with this movie. If I had to nitpick, I guess I thought the pacing towards the end of the second act was a little slow. Overall, the movie moved along really well, but there was one scene that slowed down and then went longer than I expected.
I’m gonna give Parasite 4.5 out of 5 paws. I’ve had pretty good luck with movies towards the end of the year here and this one still easily jumped up into my top favorites of the year. It’s a unique and entertaining experience that keeps you guessing and satisfied as it transitions from one type of movie into something totally different. I would recommend Parasite to anybody who likes a good mystery or scheme-based movie. Again, without giving anything away, if you like the simple, yet intricate plots spun by people like Alfred Hitchcock and Agatha Christie, you’ll probably enjoy this.
It’s a South Korean film, so it does have subtitles, but if that’s usually a deal-breaker for you, I’d say give this one a shot anyway. If you liked Parasite, I would recommend Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder. It’s got a very different story (although there are a few similar subplots), but the main reason for this recommendation is the well-crafted plot that sorta deconstructs the typical mystery film.
I would also recommend Shoplifters. Again the story’s quite different, but the very general premise and some of the major themes are similar. Also, these two films are back-to-back winners of the Palme D’or. Finally, if you’re just in the mood for an entertaining comedy-of-manners film that deals with social issues and class differences, I’d suggest you check out Trading Places. I know that might sound a bit out there as a recommendation based on this film, but it also delivers its message in a fun, borderline satirical, manner. Alright, a couple questions for you guys.
Number one: Have you seen Parasite? If so, what’d you think of it? And number two: What’s your favorite movie that went a completely unexpected direction by the end? Be sure to leave your answers in the comments below so we can get a discussion going.