Consummate Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho has a penchant for alternating trenchant, darkly funny gems like Memories of Murder and Mother with metaphorical, big-budget extravaganzas like The Host and Snowpiercer. He didn’t just make a triumphant return to the immediacy of South Korean milieu after a decade, but also a fabulous one to the former category – suffice it to say, the one which I’m particularly fond of – with Parasite. He's crafted here a searing, eccentric, absurdist, pitch-black satire on the unsettling implications of thoroughly inbred class differences and the brutal potential consequences of ensuing class conflicts – a theme that’s universally relevant. The Kim family – slacker father (Song Kang-ho), grumpy mother (Lee Jung-eun), foxy daughter (Park So-dam) and sensible son (Choi Woo-shik) – live in a cramped basement apartment in a working-class Seoul neighbourhood, and eke out a basic survival through a mix of industriousness and street-smart. Hence, when fortuitous chance allows them a toehold into the lavish, modernist bungalow of the affluent Park family – icy industrialist (Lee Sun-kyun) who deplores the “smell” of poverty, his naïve and gullible wife (Cho Yo-jeong), and two kids – what follows is a simmering home-invasion tale that eventually and inevitably escalates into shocking mayhem. The allegorical representation of those who stay above the ground and those residing in the underbelly, and their fragile co-dependence, was reminiscent of Altman’s Gostford Park. Exquisitely enacted by the ensemble cast (Song was especially magnificent), the film was telling in the way the seeds of the eventual disaster are sown through societal complicity and normalization (linking the climactic outburst with Capote’s devastating masterwork In Cold Blood), and also in its glib portrayal by the media as just another act of senseless violence.
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Genre: Black Comedy/Social Satire/Family Drama
Country: South Korea