Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
Daniel looks at Disney's beautifully melancholy classic ‘The Rescuers’ on the latest episode of Ink & Paint - listen now!x
review, Parasite, Parasite, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Song Kang-Ho, Lee Sun-Kyun, Cho Yeo-Jeong, Choi Woo-Shik, Park So-Dam, Jang Hye-Jin, Lee Jung-Eun, Park Seo-Jun, Lee Eun-Sung, Bong Joon-Ho film rating

PARASITE

★★★★★

A BLOODTHIRSTY AND VERY FUNNY LOOK AT CLASS WARFARE

SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Jake Watt
16th June 2019

One of the figures of the Korean New Wave movement in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Bong Joon-ho ('Barking Dogs Never Bite', 'Memories of Murder', 'Mother', 'The Host', 'Snowpiercer') is a filmmaker that is known for making dark films that defy convention. Never wanting to be pigeonholed as a filmmaker, Bong continually challenges himself by tackling various genres. His films always manage to offer some glimmer of hope, even when telling dark and complicated stories.

The last time Bong appeared at Sydney Film Festival, he was touring 'Okja' in 2017. It was produced by Netflix and, embarrassingly, they insisted on accompanying it with a trailer for David Ayer's terrible 'Bright'. Bong's film addressed themes like the environment and animal rights, but the clash of different cartoon sensibilities and the battle between Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal to deliver the most outlandish caricatures made 'Okja' a choppy mix of anti-corporate farce and Miyazaki fantasy.

Now Bong is back at the festival in 2019 with 'Parasite', a film clearly made by a director working at the height of his powers. It is something to behold. Bong, to be quite frank, is the fucking dude.

When 'Parasite' opens, the lower-class Kim family (like 'The Host', they are a dysfunctional family who never reached their individual potentials) are not only trying to solve a stinkbug problem, but also how to figure out which local cafe's free Wi-fi they can leech off. Patriarch Ki-taek (Bong's long-time collaborator, Song Kang-ho, 'Okja', 'Snowpiercer') advises his kids to hold their phones towards the corner of the ceiling, while his wife Chung-sook (Jang Hye-jin) lazily folds pizza boxes as the family's sole and minimal source of income. It's not enough money to afford tuition for their young adult children Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik, 'Train to Busan') and Ki-jung (Park So-dam, 'Ode to the Goose'), but they make just enough to stay in their squalid sub-basement apartment. Sure, belligerent drunks urinate in the alleyway next to their living room window, but they get "free" fumigation by leaving that window open when exterminators visit the nearby houses. Stinkbug problem solved!

'PARASITE' TRAILER 2

The tide turns in their favour when one of Ki-woo's friend gives up his gig as a private English tutor to Da-hye (Jung Ziso), the daughter of a wealthy family, so he can travel abroad. Before he leaves, he recommends the dim but cunning Ki-woo (who failed the university entrance exam four times and thus has been studying the same thing over again for four years) for the job, bringing him into the orbit of the Parks, who are rich beyond measure. Unlike the cramped apartment in which the Kims reside, the Parks live in a spacious house that used to be occupied by the famous architect who built it, with a handsome chauffeur (Lee Sun-gyun) and a housekeeper (Lee Jung-eun) who see to their every need (incredibly, Bong designed both the Kim's apartment and Park's house himself).

Armed with forged college papers, Ki-woo manages to make a good impression on Mrs Park (Cho Yeo-jeong, 'The Target'), and even gets his sister in on the scam when Mrs Park mentions that her young son needs a new art teacher. After being employed, Ki-jeong designs a plot to get Mr Park's driver fired and her dad Ki-taek employed as the new driver of the family. Once Ki-taek is employed, he manages to get the final Kim family member, his wife Choong-sook, employed as the housekeeper of the house. Just like that, the clan of grifters have found a source of income: the Park family.

For the first hour or so of its perfectly-paced and flab-free running time, 'Parasite' is a very funny heist movie (think a low-rent version of Choi Dong-hoon's 'The Thieves'). We watch the Kim family amusingly enact their sting with the precision of Swiss clockwork, cutting stylishly back and forth between the planning and the execution of the lies, manipulation, sabotage, gaslighting and the shaving of peaches.

Achieving their ultimate goal, however, has side effects. The Kim's new place in the extremely comfortable lives of the Parks means some stark clarity is thrown on the divide between the two families and where they rank in the hierarchy of South Korea, a highly competitive society where success in education and business is valued above all.

Conformity and social expectations, place of birth, job, place of residence, accent, and clothing all factor into the endless judgement of status in the country, which rises from a complex web of history and development that has culminated in an autocratic, work-driven society that pays the majority of its workforce a severely low wage. In such a consumerist society, social mobility becomes a primary motivation, and in South Korea, the best way to get rich currently is to be born that way. The country has industrialised so quickly precisely because there is little chance of social mobility. Much like being refused entry to a stranger's opulent house, when someone shuts the door in your face there's little chance of becoming anything other than one more drone in the horde of ignored working class people behind you.

Without giving away spoilers, the film gradually becomes a sociological thriller before darkening into a gasp-inducing horror movie.

Bong conceived and began writing 'Parasite' in 2013, when he was filming the critically-acclaimed 'Snowpiercer' starring Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton. According to his Q&A at Sydney Film Festival, the germ of the idea formed after he noticed a stain on his trousers one day and wondered how it got there. Both movies portray the rich and the poor, but instead of the science fiction setting of a train in 'Snowpiercer', he focuses 'Parasite' on two families - one poor, one rich - to show the wealth gap through "the most basic unit of our lives".

The Parks are a Westernised family who live in a sleek, modernist home with white picket fences and who buy toys and gadgets from the United States, exemplifying the upper crust. Ki-taek's family, meanwhile, lives in a sordid apartment that might be flooded with sewerage water if it rains too heavily. It soon becomes clear that Bong is asking the audience exactly which family the 'Parasite' of the title is supposed to reference. Without giving away spoilers, the film gradually becomes a sociological thriller before darkening into a gasp-inducing horror movie.

Bong has talked about his past as a student activist and affirmed his membership in South Korea's socialist New Progressive Party, albeit with the petit-bourgeois reservation that "whatever the party or organisation, it isn't possible to exceed the power of one passionate individual." He is not subtle when it comes to the themes of his films, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. 'Snowpiercer' isn't so much an allegory for class warfare - it is class warfare, just set on the science fiction environment of an ever-moving train. 'The Host' is the venerable monster-movie warning that our careless destruction of the planet will come back to bite us - maybe literally.

'Parasite', maybe even more so than 'Okja', shifts gears in total service of its class politics, infecting the film's initial breezy dark comedy with notes of rage and melancholy. It turns out to be a relative of Kim Jee-woon's 'The Quiet Family' (also starring Song Kang-ho, it centres on a family who owns a hunting lodge in a remote area, whose customers always happen to end up dying) and Kim Ki-duk's '3-Iron' (the story of an almost invisible drifter who goes around breaking into empty houses).

All too often, explicitly political art fails as both art and politics. Socialists shouldn't put up with shonky imitations of popular genres, nor with political messages denuded of anything but the lowest common denominator.

What makes 'Parasite' so satisfying is that it commits neither error. It is an engrossing, stylish and near-perfect movie, and its underlying themes go beyond merely pointing out class exploitation to challenge the logic of capital. Though he is often juggling a mosaic of characters, themes and social issues, Bong never eschews his anarchic impulses and dark humour. 'Parasite' is a movie that should be seen as widely as possible, if only so that Bong Joon-ho gets more chances to make movies for modern audiences that badly need them.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: 27/06/2019
RUN TIME: 2h 12m
CAST: Song Kang-Ho
Lee Sun-Kyun
Cho Yeo-Jeong
Choi Woo-Shik
Park So-Dam
Jang Hye-Jin
Lee Jung-Eun
Park Seo-Jun
Lee Eun-Sung
DIRECTOR: Bong Joon-Ho
WRITERS: Bong Joon-Ho
Kim Dae-Hwan
PRODUCER: Jang Young-Hwan
SCORE: Jung Jae-Il
ParasiteMovie
ParasiteMovie
ParasiteMovie
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Looking for more Sydney Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights. 
The Hating Game - When rivalry turns to romance
TRENDINGWIN THE HATING GAMEWhen rivalry turns to romance
Pocahontas - 25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
TRENDINGPOCAHONTAS25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
Kuessipan - Coming of age story in an Innu community
TRENDINGKUESSIPANComing of age story in an Innu community
Red Pill, Blue Pill - 10 films influenced by 'The Matrix' on its 20th anniversary
TRENDINGRED PILL, BLUE PILL10 films influenced by 'The Matrix' on its 20th anniversary
Spencer - A beautifully strange and deeply moving fable of the People's Princess
TRENDINGSPENCERA beautifully strange and deeply moving fable of the People's Princess
Dragged Across Concrete - A hypnotically violent and excessive crime flick
TRENDINGDRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETEA hypnotically violent and excessive crime flick
The Eyes of Tammy Faye - Grab a Diet Coke - this biopic is truly blessed
TRENDINGTHE EYES OF TAMMY FAYEGrab a Diet Coke - this biopic is truly blessed
Cosmic Sin - A film that delivers on the promise of its title
TRENDINGCOSMIC SINA film that delivers on the promise of its title
The Mystery of Henri Pick - A charming literary detective story
TRENDINGTHE MYSTERY OF HENRI PICKA charming literary detective story
25 Free-to-Watch Short Horror Films - The scariest shorts we uncovered online
TRENDING25 FREE-TO-WATCH SHORT HORROR FILMSThe scariest shorts we uncovered online
Encanto - Family matters derail the latest from Disney Animation
TRENDINGENCANTOFamily matters derail the latest from Disney Animation
The Wolf's Call - Suspense, silliness and sonar sweeps
TRENDINGTHE WOLF'S CALLSuspense, silliness and sonar sweeps
A Guide to Second Date Sex - A quintessentially awkward British romantic comedy
TRENDINGA GUIDE TO SECOND DATE SEXA quintessentially awkward British romantic comedy
Alpha: The Right to Kill - A gritty, vividly realistic glimpse at Philippine's
TRENDINGALPHA: THE RIGHT TO KILLA gritty, vividly realistic glimpse at Philippine's "war on drugs"
C'mon C'mon - An intimate odyssey of love and guidance
TRENDINGC'MON C'MONAn intimate odyssey of love and guidance
The 355 - 'Ocean's' ripoff sinks
TRENDINGTHE 355'Ocean's' ripoff sinks
Red Rocket - Another American classic from Sean Baker
TRENDINGRED ROCKETAnother American classic from Sean Baker
tick, tick...BOOM! - Bringing Jonathan Larson’s Bohemia to life
TRENDINGTICK, TICK...BOOM!Bringing Jonathan Larson’s Bohemia to life
The Fox and the Hound - Celebrating 40 years since Disney's saddest tail
TRENDINGTHE FOX AND THE HOUNDCelebrating 40 years since Disney's saddest tail
Breaking News in Yuba County - A very slow news day
TRENDINGBREAKING NEWS IN YUBA COUNTYA very slow news day
© 2011 - 2022 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us!