If there’s any filmmaker today who truly understands class struggle and weaves it seamlessly into their work, it is South Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho. His latest film, Parasite, is no different. Directed by Bong Joon-ho and co-written by Joon-ho and Han Jin-won, the film is a black comedy mixed with a thriller that is centered around a poor family, the Kims. They struggle to get by until their son gets a job as an English tutor for a wealthy family’s daughter. They land a recommendation from a well-to-do, educated friend and subsequently schemes their way into having all of the Kims employed by the wealthy family.
The film won the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, which was well-deserved. Parasite more so than likely any other film that’s been released in recent years shows the extent of how capitalism crushes the poor in service of the rich. Before being hired by the Parks, the Kim family languishes in a small, dingy apartment in a bad part of town making their money from odd jobs like assembling pizza boxes. The only reason they’re able to get a step up is because of the job their son, Ki-woo played by Choi Woo-shik, gets by having his educated friend recommend him and lie about his credentials. The lengths that the Kims go to be hired by the Parks highlights both the desperation that poverty puts the poor and the unrecognized intelligence and ingenuity they show despite their lack of academic privilege. Bong Joon-ho himself has stated multiple times that the film is meant to be interpreted as a statement on capitalism and its excesses.
Not only is the film’s story laudable, but the dialogue is consistently clever and funny. The cinematography by Hong Kyung-pyo is dazzling and elevates the film from being not just intellectually stimulating, but also visually stimulating. This combined with Yang Jin-mo’s masterful editing and Bong Joon-ho’s meticulous storyboarding helps give many sequences a beautifully rhythmic flow. The film was very carefully planned from start to finish to achieve the closest result to perfection possible in filmmaking and it really shows.
The film receives my highest praise and recommendation, and I give it a rating of 5 stars out of 5. It is currently screening at the Broadway Metro Theatre in Downtown Eugene.