Starring: Song Kang-ho, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Running Time: 132 mins
Parasite is a South Korean film about a poor family who, through a series of complex plans, work their way into the household of a wealthy upper-class family, but soon find dark secrets lurking where they least expected.
This is how you make a movie. From beginning to end, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite offers up one of the most electrifying, enthralling and deviously entertaining thrillers ever put to screen, told at an exhilarating pace that takes you through a rollercoaster of twisted and hugely unpredictable ups and downs, all tinged with an engrossing and passionate air of timely social commentary.
There is so much to love about Parasite, it’s difficult to know where to start. However, as far as thrillers go, there are few films out there that are so exhilarating and enjoyable to watch as this. On the one hand, Parasite is a brilliantly intelligent, intense and often dark film, but on the other, it plays out in this hugely entertaining theatrical style, taking an already engrossing and exciting story to almost ridiculous lengths, hurling you into the deliriously enjoyable chaos of it all without even a second to look back.
Director Bong Joon-ho’s work on this film is masterful to say the least. Not only does he brilliantly balance the intensity and fun factor of this amazing story, but Parasite is a film that’s clearly made with passion for both its subject matter and great cinema. Bong combines an ingenious use of misdirection and atmosphere to turn Parasite into something that you’d never see coming, while also bringing in cerebral and engrossing character and social drama to the mix.
As a result, Parasite isn’t just an insane rollercoaster like the equally exhilarating The Handmaiden, but also a film that has a beating heart, as it looks at the struggles of those in weaker economic circumstances and contrasts that with the almost comical opulence of the upper classes.
However, while it’s an absolutely fascinating core theme, Bong Joon-ho never plays it out in a heavy-handed fashion, and his use of often ridiculous and exaggerated characteristics of characters on both sides of the wealth gap is something that works brilliantly to bring it to life in a passionate and most importantly exciting way.
The film never reduces itself to simply relying on blatant dialogue or heavy-handed visual contrasts, but the intensity of the emotion that you feel with the characters with regards to that very theme – despite how subtle the director plays it – is testament to just how strong a film this is.
And what’s more is that, there are about two or three individual films that you can pick out of Parasite and digest entirely independently. The first forty minutes alone feel like an Oscar-winning drama, but Parasite builds and builds on its own ingenuity throughout to make for a hugely satisfying and impressively layered watch.
And finally, a word on the performances, which are pretty much perfect across the board. There are too many names to go through here when it comes to praiseworthy acting, but the core quartet – the poor family that infiltrates the rich household – are so irresistible and yet dynamically dark, with Song Kang-ho in particular putting in a striking yet brilliantly subtle performance that reveals itself so strongly as the film goes on.
But alongside the leads, the supporting performances from a number of actors – whether it be the rich family members, their housekeeper or even people that you would think barely have a role in the story – are exceptional, and prove the cherry on top of the delicious cake that is Parasite.
Overall, it’s clear that this isn’t just a great thriller, but one of the best films of recent years. Parasite is a masterful piece of work, featuring electrifying entertainment value alongside engrossing drama and intrigue. Director Bong Joon-ho is pitch-perfect right the way through, and the performances are exceptional right across the board. In short, Parasite is an exhilarating watch, and one you won’t ever be able to take your eyes off, which is why I’m giving it a 9.0.