Parasite: feeding off the host

22 Oct
parasite

parasite

I wanted to see Parasite before the hype got too overwhelming. It’s like waiting in an endless line to get ice cream or coffee- after such a long wait, it can’t really be that good. And if there is crazy hype around this movie come Oscar season, I may reevaluate how I feel about it. But moments from the film- images, actions, jokes, music- have stayed with me days later. I love a movie with a good twist- and this one has about three.

What do you need to know going into the movie? It’s about a working-class family, the Kims, that insinuates itself into the lives of a wealthy family, the Parks. Yes, the title may refer to them living like parasites off of their wealthy hosts. But “Parasite” is not a simple anti-capitalist polemic. It is funny, largely thanks to the gullible matriarch of the Park family, as well as the scheming of the Kim family as they worm their way into the luxurious Park home. It is thrilling, as we watch the plot take unexpected turns. Director Bong Joon-Ho is a master of not only setting tone, but at switching, from dark humor to taut psychological thriller, in such a seamless way. The visual language of the movie is rich and tells a story itself, each corner of the exquisite Park home telling a tale, and with the obvious visual metaphor of the Parks living high above the city, and the Kims living in a basement apartment, although the high/low metaphor extends to the interior of the Park house as well. Upstairs/downstairs, indeed.

While I called “Parasite” far from a communist screed, there is righteous anger coursing through the film, especially in the second half. The patriarch of the Kims overhears the patriarch of the Parks confess that Kim (his driver) has the stench of the poor. The Kims get a glimpse of the good life in the Parks’ home, but that’s all it will be- a glimpse. As Kim tells his son, the best plan in life is to have no plan at all. Even when you have the extraordinary good luck to find yourself in a situation like the Kims do, you know it’s all a dream. You’re still the parasite leeching off of the good will of your hosts.

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