Parasite: Believe the Joon-Ho's D'Or Hype
Written by Sarah W.
Bong Joon-Ho's Palme D'Or winner Parasite is proof that the film industry overseas is thriving, even while the United States is being crushed beneath Disney's mouse ears. Often heralded as a genre-bending triumph, Parasite is remarkable for how it never pities its subjects as their world falls apart.
Parasite is the kind of film where it is best to go in blind, trailers give too much away for those looking to experience the pure delight and shock every reveal is tailored for. Unlike the previous feature, Okja, by the #BongHive director, Parasite does not become a tearjerker, even at its darkest moments. Everything is kept light, even when dark secrets are unearthed, and the film spirals into a controlled chaos that feels inevitable from the moment the film steps into motion.
As a commentary on class relationships, it's even more genius. So often is the working class mocked by the wealthy, told they are leeching off the rich, hence the title of parasite. One family latches onto another, one by one, to build up a relationship with those they envy most. We begin to root for nepotism, because this time it's the underdog working together. We soon lose the ability to discern who's in the right; is being passive to what's going on beneath us alright if we're still fighting for ourselves?
Instead of feeling dense and preachy, Parasite operates on some sort of thriller-comedy tangent, with the young son of the wealthy family providing comic relief at the tensest moments. The cinematography is worth noting, absolutely gorgeous and fluid throughout, as opposed to a few perfect shots crafted for the sole purpose of being screencapped and shared. From a technical perspective, it's a flawless film, making it the worthiest Palme D'Or winner since Paris, Texas.
It's also worth noting that Parasite is the third of an unofficial trilogy of social issue thrillers. Snowpiercer tackled corporate ethics, and Okja tackled the ethics of consumerism, and the pitfalls of animal agriculture. Compared to the previous two features, Parasite is much broader in its depiction of the pitfalls of capitalism, yet the most personal in its subjects. Despite the large cast of characters, all essential to the tightly-woven tale, every one of them is distinct and developed, an impressive feat for a film balancing so many.
The way Joon-Ho plays with our moral compasses is especially masterful. We root for those at the bottom of the food chain, no matter what they do in their fight to thrive instead of just survive, because we believe that what they do is a means to an end. When we begin to realize how codependent the rich and the poor has become, we begin to realize that either both families will feed upon each other until they are gone, or the titular parasite is all a myth.
Parasite is a gem among South-Korean cinema. Along with the themes of classism and wealth distribution, which American viewers will easily connect to, it tackles the conflict between the North and South, and the pull between the East and the West masterfully in the background, which is an absolute treat for dedicated viewers. Long after the credits roll, Parasite remains relevant and thought-provoking, and is most certainly a film that should be caught in theaters.