[VoxSpace Review] With Parasite Movie Bong Joon-Ho Goes Back To His Roots

A Treasure Trove Of Incredible Cinema

South Korea has been a hotbed for some of the most unique and exciting auteurs working at this point. I was introduced to Korean cinema with the one-two punch of The Chaser and Oldboy. I spent months just finding every good film that came from a fascinating country. In my search I found brilliant minds like Park Chan-wook, Kim Ki-Duk, Na Hong-jin (watch his ‘The Wailing’ to understand why), Bong Joon-ho, etc. All these film-makers had this brilliant way of exploring deep existential issues with extremely compelling and breathless storytelling. The Parasite is no exception to that.

A Great Return To Form

The Parasite is the latest film by Bong Joon-ho, it also happens to mark his return to Korean cinema after the mesmerizing thriller Mother. He has constantly been making these moralistic yet captivating masterpieces like Memories of Murder, The Host, Snowpiercer, etc. While I was not a huge fan of his last film Okja, I was still captivated by the amazing flair he has for stylistic yet aesthetically pleasing visuals. He goes back to his roots with this thriller which is made at a modest budget but with breath-taking ambition.

When Enormous Opportunity Meets An Unquenchable Need

Parasite follows a very poor Ki-taek’s family, who consists of a mother, father and two siblings. They are all unemployed and live in a semi-furnished basement in a very bad neighborhood. Through the help of an old friend, the son lands a well-paying job to teach English to the daughter of the extremely rich Park’s family. Thus, begins a story of what happens when an enormous opportunity meets an unquenchable need. With this thriller, the film-maker touches various aspects of our everyday life, like class divide, lack of resources, casual cruelty towards the under-privileged, the way we let the poor fight amongst themselves like a global gladiatorial match for even the most basic needs and how we are surprised when they act out.

Visceral Cinema At Its Best

There various sequences in the film designed to get a visceral reaction of guilt towards the state of the world we live in. The film-maker brilliantly balances the story in a way that the viewer is always at a loss for which family they should be rooting for. The rich are not mean because they are evil, but because they are oblivious to their privilege. While at the same time the poor are not conning people because they are greedy, but because they are trapped in the prison, they call life. There is also a brilliant visual motif that is revealed to us halfway through informing us of why the film is called Parasite. I am not going to spoil that for the viewer, but that was the moment I realized I was watching a classic in the making.

Meticulously Constructed Masterpiece

The technical aspects of the film are top-notch all the way, which is expected of any Bong Joon-Ho film. He has never been accused of shooting a single uninteresting shot in his career. There is this brilliant moment halfway through where a group of people needs to pull off an almost impossible task. The editing, music, and cinematography made me breathless, the almost real-time scene had so many beats and elements to check off in one big swoop that I just sat back marveling at the insane feat of choreographing that scene. The production design is also pitch-perfect. It mostly takes place in two important locations, the Park’s enormous mansion and Ki-taek’s dirty basement. The mansion looks perfectly modern, tasteful and neat, while the basement looks, broken down, cramped and filthy.

On the whole, this is a film that is not be missed. Find it any way possible and watch it.

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