Parasite

Parasite is a hard watch. And I am not saying that because of the subtitles. Instead, the movie presents us with a story that unfold in a world, or better said, worlds, that are rather alien to ours by culture, and in which there isn’t a single element that somebody with common sense could approve of. Slowly but surely, Parasite emerges as one of this year’s film festivals darling, which speaks a lot for its quality, and surely enough, it is one of the must see films of 2019.

The story is about a family of 4: father, mother, son and daughter, that live in a small, semi-underground apartment, in one of many slums in South Korea. They are poor, but they seem to be ok with it, as long as they can make ends meet with as little work as possible, even if that means cutting corners or ripping others off. One day, the opportunity presents itself for the son of the family to score himself a good job, by pretending to be a university student. He is hired to be an English tutor for the daughter of a rather wealthy family that lives in a very exclusive, gated community. It doesn’t take long for the son to assess just how gullible the rich family is in order to play them to get more and more for his family. Everything seems to go just fine until one rainy evening…
In all honesty, this movie is a roller coaster. It takes some time for things to get going, but once they do, the twists and turns just keep on coming. It is one of the most interesting movies ever about class struggle. The poor family vs. the rich family. The cockroaches vs. the gods of Olympus. Both factions have mortal sins, but at the same time, they have virtue as well. The poor, while being shady and malevolent, are surprisingly sophisticated and resourceful. They prove again and again that just because they are poor it doesn’t means that they are any less rich people, that if they have the chance, they can easily surpass anybody else just by sheer merit. On the other hand, the rich people, while being nice and generous and always playing by the rules, they are dismissive of others, and are treating their staff as nothing more talking household appliances that are available for them any time of the day just because they are getting payed. They can literally smell the poor and they don’t like it. Add to this cat and mouse game the setting of South Korea (bill collectors, the fear from the North, the always polite mannerisms, etc.) and you get a rather surreal picture, at least from a western point of view.
In a way, Parasite is a great companion piece to Us, the movie released earlier this year by Jordan Peele. They both tackle the same subject with surprising similarities, Joon-ho Bong’s movie is much more subtle and believable than Peele’s, yet, despite not being a horror film, it is disturbing just the same.

It would be a disservice not to watch this movie in a theater. Not because its visuals or sounds are breathtaking, but because this movie demands an attention that most of us are lacking in the comforts of our home. Add to this that Parasite is a foreign language film (for most of us anyway) and the chances that you will check out early from the movie skyrockets. Which would be a real shame, since this is one of the best films of 2019. So treat it, and yourself, in an adequate manner, and go see it in the theaters. These movies need our box office support. But if you don’t, don’t ever complain to me about the total lack of original movies…

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