Parasite (Gisaengchung) directed by the critically acclaimed South Korean director Bong Joon Ho had its world premiere at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival winning the — coveted Palme d’Or. Unlike his previous film, Parasite will release in cinemas after Bong dabbled in the streaming market with arguably one of the best Netflix originals — the dazzling, albeit bizarre creature feature Okja.
In Parasite, we follow the unemployed and parasitical family of Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho) who entangles themselves in the life of the mega-rich Park family, therefore socially immersing themselves as literal figments of their imaginations with deeply troubling and violent repercussions. It may be perhaps hyperbolic, but after his seventh feature film, Bong has yet to disappoint with anything less of a masterpiece. His latest film takes him down a gritty rabbit hole of greed and morally ambiguous quota. The shocks are electric, and the comedy is palpable with a climax that is nothing short of mesmerizing.
There are moments in Parasite that had my jaw on the floor, and I say that with the utmost certainty and honesty. There are sequences here that are so bold, and so outstanding you feel privileged to watch this film, which is wholly farcical in nature — develop and unfold. One of the staple elements of Bong’s filmography ranging from Mother, Okja and Memories of a Murder, is how exquisite his respective film palettes are conceived and executed in terms of tone and genre. Bong is nothing short of a master when it comes to juggling the elements of Parasite. One sequence can have you crying with laughter, cold in fear, and breathless with the tension. There are multiple instances of this leading to you not thinking of anything else but what’s in front of your eyes. You’re totally in the grasp of the event in front of your eyes, causing some incredibly abstract moments from Bong — who knows full well you’re not going to escape to anywhere else.
Bong takes advantage of this by injecting layers of bone-chilling horror into Parasite. These elements creep silently out from the shadows with an unsuspecting atmosphere of truly daunting fright. Features implemented so efficiently that even contextually such details catch the characters by complete surprise; thus, the effect immerses the audience and intensifies the experience of Parasite. The moments of comedy are as equally as playful and efficient, reminiscent of English black comedy that is so darkly inhabited and brutally executed you’ll be stunned — catching yourself brimming with joy after every sickening comedic pass. Credit is due to writers Bong and Han Jin-won — the duo has crafted something here too abstract, crazy and pedantic that it really shouldn’t have worked at all. However, even amid chaos theirs societal, political questioning rooted underneath, and while not explicitly stated it’s there for a more detailed reading of what the film is suggesting.
This multi-layered execution of tone allows total freedom of the film’s performers, and they don’t disappoint, whatsoever. Regulator collaborator Song is outstanding as the father in this deranged family. His skill as an actor rivals that of the very best as his unflinching differentiation of tone is performed with perfect execution and his comedic timing exquisite. Yeo-Jeong Cho as Mr. Park’s wife Yeon-Kyo also stirs a brilliant performance. She plays a relatively dim-witted role, but her performance is equally as useful and entertaining as any of the family members on display in Parasite. Each member of the family is distinctively unique with a clear differentiation of individualism, with their own respective goals and morbid conquering testaments for living — both curious and delightfully funny.
On a technical standpoint in regards to the filmmaking, Parasite is untouchable. The craftsmanship ranging from the outstanding cinematography by Hong Kyung-Pyo to the swift and slick edit by Yang Jin-mo offers an experience that is at the very top of a standard we often see missing in current films. From the writing to the performances, we’re given an experience here from Bong Joon-Ho that is nothing short of top tier skill and craft that serves every cinematic purpose possible and then some. Parasite is an electrifying and monumental picture that demands repeat viewings, of which I am eager to oblige.
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