Parasite

Scene from the movie Parasite

The genius director

The genius director-writer Bong Joon-ho is well-known for his sudden mood-shifting dark comedies (simply put by other critiques as black-humour) based on stark social issues and disturbing realities of the world. Metacritic, a review aggregator, has ranked Bong thirteenth on its list of the 25 best film directors of the 21st century. Parasite created a buzz in the movie market by becoming the first-ever non-English language movie in Oscar history to win the award for Best Picture on 9 February 2020. Bong won all four categories for which he was nominated: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and (on behalf of South Korea) Best International Feature Film. Parasite also won the Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, the first South Korean film to do so.

As of 17 February 2020, Parasite grossed a total of $205.3 million worldwide. It set a new record for Bong, becoming the first of his films to gross over $100 million worldwide.

The storyline

In the opening scene, son of the Kim family, Ki-woo, is shown struggling with his unauthorised Wi-Fi connectivity as the family living on the floor above has changed their password. They can’t afford a simple house on the ground floor and hence live in the relatively cheaper basement apartment (common in Seoul) which has its own perks such as “free pest control” as put by father Ki-taek (when a local municipal guy is fogging the roads, sewers and the fumes enter their home from open basement outlets) and drawbacks like drunkards peeing near the basement window which is the daily apartment view for the family during dinner. The misery of the family is evident in the scene in which they are trying to fold more and more pizza boxes in a single day for a local pizza chain to make the ends meet but the manager is penalizing them for sub-quality folds.

The turning point in their life comes when a well-to-do friend of Ki-woo suggests that he give English tuitions to the student of a wealthy family whom he used to teach but now as he is going abroad for further studies won’t be able to continue. He suggests Ki-woo get a fake university degree and visit the family for an interview with his referral. Ki-woo agrees as he is good in English but without documentary proof.

After getting a fake degree (fabricated by his sister’s artistic and designing expertise) Ki-woo visits the rich Park family’s beautiful villa. The mistress and owner of the lavish estate, Choi Yeon-gyo, is impressed by Ki-woo’s polite talking, good looks and the previous tutor’s referral. Ki-woo is appointed and given the American name ‘Kevin’ as the Parks are much influenced by western culture.

Kevin senses an opportunity for his family, and slowly the Kim family infiltrates the Park family like a parasite does with its host, living on the host’s body, sucking its blood and nutrition, making the host weaker and weaker from inside every day. To keep their ruse running, the Kims have to pretend they don’t know one another.

The life of the Kim family is hunky dory until the day when the Parks go camping for their son’s birthday celebrations. It is a celebration night for the Kim family as well, they are in charge of the mansion; they are shown drinking and eating in the Parks’ kitchen and bar recklessly. Suddenly there’s someone at the door; and then everything changes!

The story, screenplay and cinematography are a masterpiece as also seen in Bong’s previous hits. The basement apartment and the locations are real Seoul streets but the Park mansion is an artificial SFX set which Bong has used brilliantly as per screenplay needs. Actor Song Kang-ho has once again teamed up with Bong and proved his acting acumen; the actor-director duo has been a hit in past as well.

Parasite is a must-watch film.