Parasite: Another Look

Parasite: Why Parasite’s Oscar Success Is So Important

Parasite Review. By Nick Boyd.

“Parasite,” a meticulously crafted Korean film, is a savvy study on the contrast between rich and poor.  A teenager named Ki-woo lives with his father Ki-taek, his mother Chung-sook, and his sister Ki-jeong in a small semi-basement apartment in Seoul.  The family struggles to make ends meet by folding pizza boxes.  

One day, a friend of Ki-woo approaches him and says that he will be leaving to study abroad and wants Ki-woo to take over his English tutoring duties of a wealthy family’s teenage daughter.

Realising this could be a good money making opportunity, Ki-woo gladly accepts the offer.

Upon arriving at the premises of the new family’s (the Parks) mansion designed by a famous architect, Ki-woo is in awe of the luxury which surrounds him.  Soon he gets the clever idea of using his family members, unbeknownst to the rich yet gullible homeowners, to also work there when a need arises. 

His sister steps in as an art therapist teacher for the Parks’ rambunctious young son.  Then his father becomes the Parks’ family driver and his mother takes over housekeeper duties.  Both families come to rely on each other – one for the money and the other for labour.  

The movie, very well-directed, does a skillful job for the most part, maintaining a darkly comedic tone and immersing us in a unique predicament.  It is continually surprising us and keeping us off-balance.  The fascination in the picture grows out of how the poor family has to walk a delicate balancing act in making sure that they are always keenly aware of how they are behaving, as one slip up could expose their scheme. 

The look and the feel of things also impresses, creating a realistic, detailed atmosphere.  We really feel the cramped, lack of ventilated space that the poor family resides in, while the rich family’s residence, although immaculately designed and kept up, is lacking in any warmth.

Later in the film, when secrets are revealed, things ramp up in their intensity from darkly comedic satire to gruesomeness and violence.  Even though what takes place makes sense, the explicitness works against the film and takes it into horror territory.

While the off-beat nature of the narrative surely will not appeal to everyone, those with a desire to be taken on a thrilling ride of many twists and turns will be rewarded with an unpredictable and unsettling sharp class dissection.

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Nick loves movies, especially coming-of-age films and indies. Some of his favourites include Stand by Me, Boyhood, and Tootsie. One of his favourite places to be is at the top of a rollercoaster.