Out of all the areas of the world considered foreign to the U.S., for some reason South Korea has tons of movies I adore. “Oldboy,” “I Saw the Devil,” “The Man From Nowhere,” and so many others, are films that have one thing in common: they’re excellent. There are many more not listed that come recommended time and time again. Another South Korea-based film has been getting its due, winning a slew of awards, including Best Picture.
I am talking about Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite.” Joon-ho is responsible for “The Host,” “Snowpiercer,” and one of my absolute favorite movies, “Memories of Murder.” I have not seen “The Host” and don’t have much of an opinion on “Snowpiercer.” Both films have been very well received. All of Joon-ho’s films have been well-received, so it comes as no surprise that “Parasite” lives up to the hype.
This film can best be described as a dark comedy con movie, with class conflict at the center. Two different families on opposite ends of the chain- the lower-class Kim family, and the rich, upper-class Park family. The differences are staggering, with one family living in an urban hovel, the other in a large, picturesque home. Trying to make their way out of their living situation, they essentially start conning the Parks into oblivion. However, while the class conflict schtick I describe may sound like “rich bad poor good”, it is more than that. As the film goes on, the characters grow and show that stereotype isn’t necessarily true. I find myself rooting for people I wouldn’t think I would.
One of the things that makes me love this movie is the dark comedy. It is clever. It is dialogue-based, and manages to not miss a beat through the entire runtime, thanks to the main cast. The father of the Kim’s is Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho), his wife is Choong-sook (Jang Hye-jin) and their children are Ki-woo and Ki-jeong (Choi Woo-shik and Park So-dam). The biggest standouts of the Kim’s are the matriarch, Yeon-gyo (Cho Yeo-jeong) and her husband, Dong-ik (Lee Sun Kyun). However, it has that dark prefix to the comedy. So, it has an overarching seriousness to it that builds slowly as the end of the film grows closer. The Kim’s various swindling machinations grow in audacity.
“Parasite” is up there as one of my favorite international movies, an excellent movie regardless of location. I relished in its brand of smart dark comedy and how it manages to keep you anxiously on your toes. As far as best picture winners go, it definitely deserves the praise it receives. I highly recommend to see this movie with as little information as possible. It doesn’t play it safe, and is simply a great movie all around.
Edited by Adam White, Jada Johnson, Jason Morrison