I know, I am very late again, but alas Good Donut was only a thought when I first watched Parasite. I’m taking the opportunity to write about it now since I’ve since rewatched it (twice), and enjoyed it just as much as the first time.
I’ll start by saying I’ve watched my fair share of Korean film and TV. I’m especially a fan of crime & psychological dramas/thrillers, having devoured most of the ones on IMDb tops and some others I’ve found interesting. I’m also a fan of Bong Joon Ho, and I find his films to be exactly my style in terms of story, visuals, and how they unfold.
When it comes to Parasite, I went in having very high expectations, and boy did it deliver. By the end of the movie I was left laughing at how madly good and clever it was in its simplicity. It’s one of my main wishes as a writer to create something that flows so seamlessly and effortlessly, something that appears simple but hides behind it a good dose of commentary on important issues, so watching this was very informative. For Parasite, the main issue explored is class, the rich and the poor, and the divide between the two.
The story itself seems pretty simple at first: The Kim family, all jobless, gets the opportunity to scheme itself into the employment of the very wealthy Parks, but gets mixed up in a secret bigger than theirs.
Without further ado, here are some of my thoughts. Spoilers ahead.
- I have to remark, the way in which every event and reveal are built up is brilliant. Every single scene is important and gives you information for later, and on more than one occasion I was left feeling like a fool for not having figured it out earlier (what stayed with me on both my watches was how simply the Park patriarch tells his driver, Mr. Kim, that the only flaw in their old housekeeper was she ate enough for two people). The movie is littered with lines and moments like that (the youngest Park’s incident mentioned in passing during Jessica/Ki-jung’s first art lesson, the “sensor” lights coming on whenever Mr. Park climbed the stairs, the peach fuzz allergy being used at its fullest to name a few), and it’s all the more satisfying to watch knowing every little thing can give you a clue to the story’s progression.
- The symmetry. The film begins and ends on the same shot of Ki-woo in the Kim sub-basement apartment, starting on a summer day and ending on a winter night. It’s a small thing, but neat nonetheless. Same can be said for the “incident” where the youngest Park saw the "ghost" and had a seizure on his birthday paralleled with the "ghost" resurfacing at a later birthday party for a new dose of trauma. It satisfies a part of my brain when things come full circle like this, so the shots earned a memorable place in my mind.
- The way the Kims strategically “earn” a place in the Park family, starting with Min (Park Seo Joon’s charming cameo) bringing Ki-woo the opportunity to tutor the daughter and ending with the family getting the housekeeper fired, is such a joy to watch. You know these people are kind of horrible for getting the jobs like this, but you root for them nonetheless because the Parks are so gullible. Although it might seem like Mrs. Park is a little bit too gullible, as Mrs. Kim says, “if I had this much money I’d be kind too”. Given her environment and character, she would have no reason to even know how cruel and crafty people can be to get what they want, she’d have no reason to doubt any of the Kims as they come with recommendations from Min, and then from each other. Ki-woo starting a fling with the daughter, Da Hye, also helps, as in the end it’s she who saves his life.
- One of the film’s more interesting motifs is the gift Min brings the family on his visit: a scholar’s rock. Ki-woo is entranced by it, and Min explains it’s said it can bring a family material wealth. The rock is the hidden kick-start to the Kims’ plan, but it’s only after Ki-woo ditches it (after getting his head bashed in with it, mind you) that the family actually escapes its “fortune”. Again, symmetry, how I love you so.
- Although I’ve seen some people wonder if Mr. Kim stabbing Mr. Park really made sense, I’d have to say the film built the moment up for a while. From the moment Mr. Park made a comment about Mr. Kim’s smell (an aspect initially brought up by his son for a different reason), to the flooding of their home and then Mrs. Kim’s not-so-subtle discomfort at the smell again and Mr. Park’s attitude during the party, I’d say the action was more than earned, considering it was a heat of the moment thing. Mr. Kim doesn’t turn into a killer, as he regrets doing it later, he just becomes a victim to the build up of stress and misfortune that begins plaguing him.
- The fact that the status quo never changes really says something about our society. Regardless of what happened in the film, things have stayed the same: the rich live on top, the poor down below.
I try to keep these thoughts short and easy to read, but there’s so much more to say about this film. Unfortunately, I can’t be as eloquent as other reviewers, and I don’t particularly want to dive too deep into meaning and metaphor for fear of ruining the experience of watching it for someone else (and for fear of telling people what to believe instead of letting them figure it out themselves), so I’ll stop here. This is more of a recommendation than a review anyway, so I hope whoever reads this finds this enough to give Parasite a try. It didn’t earn a Palme d’Or for nothing, okay?
Side note: Lee Jong-eun’s performance was flawless, and to me, she shined the most out of the cast. She’s fascinating in roles like this, another one being Eom Bok Soon in Strangers From Hell, but that’s a project we’ll talk about another time wink wink nudge nudge.
Extra: I found this video to be both fun and informative. Hear from Bong Joon Ho and Choi Woo Sik (Ki-woo) themselves on the beginning of the movie: