by Topher Paul
I found myself in a unique situation last night: I had nothing to watch. I mean, sure, I could have scrolled through Netflix’s endless collection, and landed on something halfway decent. But I wanted something good. Something that would stick with me. None of the titles I came across crossed the 6.5 IMDB rating, which is on the low-end of my barometer, and remember, I wanted something really good. So I decided to re-watch Parasite, and I am not at all disappointed in my decision.
In case you’re unfamiliar, Parasite is the 2020 Oscar winner for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film. I know you’re thinking, “wait, didn’t The Shape of Water win Best Picture? And wasn’t that about a lady who fucked a fish-man?” Yes, but Parasite also won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, which is a much better indicator of a quality film than the Oscars. The film, written and directed by Bong Joon Ho, is just one of those movies that sticks with you well after the credits roll.
Before we go any further, I’ll be delving into some minor spoiler-ish material here, but the film doesn’t really rely on any major revelations, and if you haven’t seen it yet, I’m sure you won’t care too much. I certainly don’t want to ruin your experience, but my second time through was even more enjoyable to be honest.
The film centers on the Kim family, who lives in a working class apartment with a great view of vagrants urinating outside their window. They do what they can to get by, and seem to be a pretty cohesive group. Through a series of events, that could be considered cons, the entire Kim family ends up working for the ultra wealthy Park family. While their actions may seem borderline nefarious, we’re still always rooting for the Kims.
Meanwhile, the Parks, while obnoxiously wealthy, are never really anything more than naive. You find yourself not rooting against the Parks, but rather just that they don’t find out the Kims are all related. This creates a very unique viewing experience, especially for those of us used to the concept of Good vs. Evil. Typically, the writer would give the Parks some sort of dark secret, or make them overtly condescending at least. There’s nothing like that here, and the film is better for it.
Throughout the film, Ki Taek, the patriarch of the Kim family, is constantly talking about a plan. About wanting more for his family. His son, Ki Woo, makes him proud by enacting this plan to give the family access to jobs and security. Increasingly, Ki Taek becomes more confident and brazen, which leads to the final act.
Once given a taste of the high life, the Kim family realizes that the grass really is greener. They begin to feel like they belong, and even that the Park home is basically theirs. The dichotomy between these two family’s worlds is immense, and when that becomes apparent, the shit hits the fan. Big time!
I particularly loved the ending of this film. It concludes the story with a deep message, and a somewhat open interpretation. Not in an irritating way like Inception (does the top fall?!?!), but in a way that forces you to consider your own beliefs about how the world works. During my second viewing, I found so many more details that made me think. I love a good, pure entertainment movie as much as the next, but sometimes I like something that can be more than just visuals on the screen.
I highly recommend checking out Parasite if you find yourself looking for something unique to watch. I watched it on Hulu, but it’s available on a variety of platforms. I’ll be back soon with a review of The Kitchen and why I think it is one of the worst movies of the decade.