Another year, another case where I manage to watch the film hailed by many as the best of the previous year after such hailing has already been made. This particular film, directed and co-written by Bong Joon-ho of South Korea, has been even more of a critical darling than many which have come before it, winning everything from the supposedly-prestigious Palme d’Or in its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival to four Academy Awards®, including not only Best International Feature but also Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture—the first non-English film to receive the top Oscar®. Its Tomatometer (99% as of writing) and Metascore (96 a.o.w.) are near perfect, as are both sites’ audience scores. HBO is even reportedly developing a miniseries based on the film. So, naturally, the time would eventually come for me to decide for myself.
PARASITE follows the story of the Kims, who struggle to get by folding pizza boxes and looking for open Wi-Fi networks. After a friend of the family’s son suggests he take over his tutoring job for the wealthy Park family despite him not having any university education, the Kims ultimately con their way into serving for the Parks, posing as unrelated individuals and finding ways to get the Parks’ existing servants fired in the process.
Bong’s films are known for mixing genres (something which I’ve been attempting to accomplish myself) and sudden twists, and PARASITE contains admittedly very good examples of both. The film starts out as a black comedy and ends as a gory thriller, its second half seemingly increasing in pace until its hits the climax at full speed and then screeches to its denouement. On top of all this, Hong Kyung-pyo’s cinematography and Yang Jin-mo’s editing are particularly fantastic in this regard, visually augmenting the story while never taking us out of it.
In all likelihood, this won Academy voters over with its themes of social and economic inequality—the kind of things that they usually seem to go for, especially with regards to Best Picture. Considering that none of the other nominees for the top prize likely had as much Oscar®-bait social commentary, I suppose this win doesn’t surprise me even though it doesn’t scream “shoo-in” at all, nor would it have likely received my own vote for the prize. That said, PARASITE is an enjoyable display of twists, turns, and class differences which I certainly got more of a kick out of than I was expecting.