Director: Bong Joon-ho
(Bong Joon-ho's ‘Parasite’ won the Palm d'Or at Cannes Film Festival 2019)
Bong Joon-ho’s film ‘Parasite’ is as much about economics as it is about relationships.Themed by one critic as a film about South Korean ‘late Capitalism’, ‘Parasite’ involves families at the opposite ends of the South Korean social and economic spectrums. Both have charming, smart children and both have one reasonably selfish parent and one caring parent. Obviously the more privileged family has a much more pleasant life-style than that of the down-and-out, though the family ties in both families are generally warm and congenial. The closeness is a little more obvious in the one-room sharing family for obvious reasons including a lack of private lessons and tutorials to break up their routine.
We first meet the ‘down-and-outs’ in their subterranean, damp basement home holding their phones up frantically, trying to catch free Wi-Fi from a nearby café. Dad has had yet another entrepreneurial failure and mum is giving him a hard-time while the two teenage children are lost in their online pursuits. Life is not good but they are a team and it obviously has been ‘not good’ with frequency before. They are warm and affectionate.
The Park family live in an ultra-modern, super sleek home and have just about all the life-style assistance money can buy; live-in house-keeper, chauffeur, gloriously unique designer environment, tutors for their children, exquisite and abundant delicacies in the pantry.
Our poor family’s son Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) stumbles into this household by way of a wealthier friend giving him his tutor’s job. A clever and arty sister (Park So-dam) fabricates the desired degrees. He has the ability to actually do the job, degree or not. No one detects his lie.
Ki-woo soon realises that there is an opportunity to introduce his sister into the household, as his student’s little brother is in need of an art tutor. His sister scrubs up for the job, does the requisite ‘art-work’ to fake her own university credentials and she glides into her role with the host family seamlessly. Next comes mum and dad as house-keeper and chauffeur respectively, though the methods to get the elder family members ‘in’ are becoming increasingly questionable.
Director Bong Joon-ho is fast becoming known as an auteur, his film’s so idiosyncratic. He is also someone who is not averse to using bloody scenes to wake up his audience. The use is not high camply gratuitous as in a Tarantino movie, nor is it coldly artistic like that of a Martin Scorsese film. Bong Joon-ho has a more hovering approach, going to the camp end in amount and detail but using gore in such surreal situations you actually become more alert to the ridiculously inequitable social issues that underpin these outrageous scenes.
And then there is the director’s use of ‘the randon event’. Clever and intriguing but I will say no more.
I highly recommend ‘Parasite’.