Movie Review – Parasite (Gisaengchung, 기생충)

TL;DR – A truly brilliant work of cinema that works on a character, action, and story level.    

Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Parasite (Gisaengchung, 기생충). Image Credit: Madman Films.

Review

When you hear that a film has won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival you immediately take notice. Because even though the voters at Cannes don’t always get it right, they always at least pick a film that is interesting. Well today not only do we get a film that is interesting, but we also get a film that made me feel multiple different emotions throughout its run time, and made an entire cinema audible gasp more than once, like the whole cinema. Well, Parasite is a more than just interesting film. Now in this review, we are going to avoid saying too much about the ending, but just, in general, this is a film that is best seen with as little information as possible.  

So to set the scene, we open in on the Kim family: father Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho), mother Choong-sook (Jang Hye-jin), son Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik), and daughter Ki-jung (Park So-dam). They live in a semi-basement flat in the poorer part of Seoul trying to make a living from whatever odd jobs they can find, like folding pizza boxes into shape. Then one day one of Ki-woo’s old army friends who is now in university comes to visit. He lets Ki-woo know of a job as an English tutor to a rich family that would pay very well. The only problem is that Ki-woo never went to university, even though he is qualified for the job, so he gets his sister Ki-jung to fake him up some university records and shows up at the Park family house. Mr Park (Lee Sun-kyun) is a successful businessman who runs a company and spends a lot of time away from the house, so he leaves his wife Yeon-kyo (Cho Yeo-jeong) in charge of hiring and she is apparently a bit dim. Well, when she watching his lesson with her daughter Da-hye (Jung Ji-so) she mentions that they are looking for an art tutor for their son Da-song (Jung Hyun-joon) and Ki-woo knows just what to do.

Parasite (Gisaengchung, 기생충). Image Credit: Madman Films.
This is a film that uses every visual element to help tell the story. Image Credit: Madman Films.

Parasite is a very difficult film to categorise because it crosses so many different genres and conventions throughout its run time. Most films trying to achieve this often fail because the viewer is left with tonal whiplash, or to combat this, the film reveals its hand far too early to lessen the impact. Parasite does not just have tonal whiplash, it embraces it, making sure that each moment hits like a freight train bursting forth down the middle of a downtown street. Every moment in this film, from the calm discussions to the more interesting moments, is carefully constructed to have the maximum impact. This is how you can have slapstick comedy, deep discussions on class, and ‘what the hell just happened!!’ moments all in the same film and still work. It shows an amazing amount of talent all the way throughout the production.

One of the ways the story works as well as it does is how it shifts your view on the Kim family and what it is doing. At the start, you get this sense of them just trying to find a break, also there is that sense that fools are easily parted from their money. Then the film takes on the persona of a heist film, where this family inserts itself into the lives of the Park’s. However, as the collateral damage mounts, you have to ask who actually the bad guys in this situation are? Which is, of course, is all then complicated by the Park family’s response to them and the world around them. This web of narratives is framed through the prism of class and opportunity that shows the stark differences that exist in Korean society.

Parasite (Gisaengchung, 기생충). Image Credit: Madman Films.
This is a film that will have you questioning everything. Image Credit: Madman Films.

Part of how this film works as well as it does is the fact that every actor is here for everything the film throws at them. There are times at the start where things felt a bit over the top and melodramatic. However, as the film goes on you see this is part of the cinematic language it is using and the cast are experts in it. I was concerned that Yeon-kyo would be a character that you see a lot in fiction as the submissive Asian lady but she is more than that. Indeed, all the cast imbues these characters with a sense of them being complete people, that you feel that these characters had real full lives before the camera started rolling and will continue to do so after they stop.

I think one of the things that this film will be known for is its ending, which I am of course not going to spoil here, though if you have not seen the film you may want to skip to the next paragraph. It has been a long time since I have seen a film successfully pull off the same kind of energy that we see in Peter Sellers’ The Party and have it stick that landing. I will say that I felt that maybe the film went on about five minutes longer than it should have, but that might just be a personal taste thing.

Parasite (Gisaengchung, 기생충). Image Credit: Madman Films.
It is a film that is right at home exploring class as it is explore slapstick comedy.

In the end, do we recommend Parasite? Absolutely! I laughed, I was shocked, I was amazed, and I was more than entertained. It also maybe hit a bit too close to home at times with my life at the moment, but films can do that at times. I know it might not be the easiest film to find (I had to travel almost an hour to see it) but it is well worth it if you can.                 

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you watched Parasite?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
 


Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Parasite
Directed by
– Bong Joon-ho
Written by – Bong Joon-ho & Han Jin-won
Music by – Jung Jae-il
Cinematography by – Hong Kyung-pyo
Edited by – Yang Jin-mo
Production/Distribution Companies – Barunson E&A Corp, CJ Entertainment & Madman Films.
Starring
– Song Kang-ho, Jang Hye-jin, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Jung Ji-so, Jung Hyun-joon, Lee Jung-eun, Park Myung-hoon, Park Geun-Rok, Jung Yi-seo & Park Seo-joon         
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: na; Germany: na; New Zealand: R; United Kingdom: na; United States: na

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1 thought on “Movie Review – Parasite (Gisaengchung, 기생충)

  1. Your review already had me intrigued, but I really got excited when I saw who the director is. I’ve seen two other movies by him, The Host and Mother. Both are amazing so I’m looking forward to seeing this one.

    Liked by 1 person

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