Film Review: Parasite (2019)
Parasite (2019) – IMDb
Cast overview, first billed only: The Kims – mother and father Chung-sook and Ki-taek, and their young adult offspring, son Ki-woo and daughter Ki-jung – are a poor family living in a shabby and cramped half basement apartment in a busy lower working class commercial district of Seoul.
There are many injustices in the world and among the biggest problems facing the world is the gulf in wealth. I have often postulated that if you evenly distribute all of the wealth on our planet amongst the 7 billion or so people we currently have, then no one would have to worry about food, warmth or shelter. As it is, a small minority hold the bulk of the money while those at the bottom face a daily battle just to put food on the table. Some are born wealthy, others begin with nothing and build themselves up. The same goes with poverty. Some enter the world and are automatically part of a world that is poor, while others lose their wealth and end up destitute. The wealth and class divides will always be. In Bong-Joon Ho’s Oscar-winning Parasite we have such a tale of the void between wealth and class.
The Kim family – made up of father, Ki-taek; mother, Chung-sook; son, Ki-woo; and daughter, Ki-jung – live in a basement apartment and earn a meagre living folding pizza boxes for a local takeaway. The family yearn for a change in fortune (both in luck and wealth). An opportunity arises when Ki-woo’s friend, Min-hyuk, informs the family he is going abroad to study and suggests Ki-woo take over his role as English tutor to teenager, Da-hye, whose family are wealthy. Ki-woo is successful with the plan and begins to earn a decent wage. However, the Kim family are not done yet. Realising that there may be further opportunities working for the wealthy Park family, they hatch a scheme to infiltrate this rich household and secure employment for each and every one of them, all acting not only as experienced in their respective roles but keeping up the pretence they do not know one another. What could possibly go wrong?
I recall hearing about a film called Parasite and that it had done well at the Oscars in 2020, bagging Best Film, Best Original Screenplay and Best Director along with a fourth award as Best International Feature Film. I knew nothing beyond the awards though. The premise noted above is only the tip of the iceberg with Parasite. There is so much more depth to submerge yourself beneath and I will not spoil what else the film has in store. Suffice to say, a lot of it was very surprising. An excellent cast slot naturally together and you find yourself admiring the close-knit Kim family as they scheme their way to a better income and deceive the Park family at every turn. Dubbed a black comedy, the film has its dark moments and comical turns but at its heart it is a poignant family drama as well, tapping into the injustice of wealth distribution and exploring that instinctual drive many of us have to do whatever it takes to protect our families.
Verdict: Highly original, well-crafted and acted, Parasite deserves the awards and the plaudits. 5/5