By Maddie O’Shea
The Korean film “Parasite” hit the big screen in October with major success as director Bong Joon-ho’s top-grossing release. Reining in $121.8 million worldwide, its filmmaking prowess has much to show. The film is playful and sleek, juxtaposing the elite Park family with the struggling Kim family to expose a dark reality of wealth inequality and the hunger behind greed.
Joon-ho is the critically-acclaimed director and screenwriter behind the films “The Host” and “Snowpiercer.” His powerful storytelling is a result of relevant realities of society, unexpected twists, and dark comedy, all of which play a part in “Parasite.” But no matter what viewers expect going in, by the end it’s guaranteed they’ll be shocked.
The movie quickly delves into two families of very different socioeconomic standings: the Kims, who struggle to make ends meet, and the Parks, who live in a luxurious and isolated mansion.
When his friend Min offers Ki-Woo Park a position tutoring a rich family’s daughter while he studies abroad, it’s an offer Ki-Woo cannot refuse. As a gift, Min brings the Parks a rock that is supposed to bring wealth. Little did the family realize that the stone would remain a strong metaphor that would quickly become deadly.
Throughout the film, the rock remains a parallel symbol to the Kims. Using a chain of recommendations, the family snakes their way into the Parks’ residence. Slowly, they replace the positions of a tutor, art therapist, chauffeur and housekeeper until they run the household. At first, it seems to symbolize fortune as the Kim family rakes in more money than they’ve ever seen, but as the family’s exploit becomes hungrier, it becomes a symbol of greed that drives out the true identity the Kims would do anything to erase.
Ki-woo, specifically, begins to morph into his predecessor, Min. At the beginning of the film, Min admits his love for the girl he is tutoring. Very soon after Ki-woo begins tutoring her, he expresses the same exact line Min spoke to him to his family: “When she enters university, I’ll officially ask her out.” The tone of the scene is dark and cunning as Ki-woo assumes Min’s personality as well as his love interest.
At this point, the landscape stone illuminated how it was one of the strongest metaphors of the film. Introduced in the beginning, it seemed as if it was just an object supposed to give fortune. However, its significance was reflected in Ki-woo, who in this scene fully transformed into a hungry parasite.
But before the Kims could permanently elevate their status in the Kims’ mansion, they were reminded of where they came from. Below the two families was yet another secret: a major plot twist that brought the Kims’ ego back down to who they really are. Shots during this sequence were mind-blowing, done with immense talent. It’s not quite a horror movie and it’s also not entirely a comedy, yet there’s just the right amount of both to create a stellar tale.
By the end, viewers are left satisfied. There’s a sorrowful ending, yet just enough hope that there’s a resolution. Despite observing how greed became a parasite in the Kims, there’s still a deep-rooted desire for Ki-woo’s future to finally unfold.
While playing with the idea that the poor will come to steal from the rich, Joon-ho creates an artistic representation that all together shouldn’t be taken too seriously. What should be considered, however, are the techniques that make the film unique. Camera angles, lighting, and strong performances take scenes to a new level—dramatic, full of comedic relief and loved by film critics and the general population alike.
“Parasite” is one of the first works in a while that still has the element of surprise. Viewers may go in thinking they understand the general plot, but it quickly morphs into something they’ve never seen before. It’s not just another poor vs. rich film. Ultimately, it’s a story about how we are all parasites, woven into the cycle of capitalism.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment