Monday, April 13, 2020

Parasite: A Complex Comedy That Will Leave You Spellbound at the End

Movie Review: Parasite (2019)
Version: Hulu

What can I say about the multiple-award winning Parasite but WOW! It's a complex drama-comedy that works on so many levels that it leaves you spellbound at the end, forcing you to dwell on it for days. Be prepared to savor it once you've seen it.

Now I understand why it won so many awards.

Parasite is a South Korean film about a poor family that lucks into a job tutoring a rich family's daughter for her university English classes. Once son Ki Woo (Woo-sik Choi) has secured his position inside the wealthy Park family's home, he maneuvers a job for his sister Ki Jung (So-dam Park) to act as an art psychologist for the Park's misunderstood son Da Song (Hyun-jun Jung). She arranges for the firing of the Park's private driver and to recommend another driver, who is her father Ki Taek (Kang-ho Song). And he manipulates the firing of the long-time Park housekeeper (Jeong-eun Lee as Moon Gwang), recommending his wife Chung Sook (Hye-jin Jang). All their lives, the Kim family has gotten along by scheming and cheating and this is their ultimate con.

Nothing could be a greater contrast between the lives of the Kims and the Parks. The Kims live in a squalid half-basement apartment in a dead-end urban industrial ghetto. The Parks live in a luxurious modern gated home with gardens and lawns on multiple levels including a full basement just for storing all their food. The Park kitchen is fully stocked -- the Kim's kitchen is lucky to have food. We discover later there is even a secret compartment where the previous housekeeper has kept her husband living! And that's when everything starts going wrong for the Kims.

Milking the Park's lifestyle for their own benefit becomes part of the motiff of Parasite. The Kims are very careful about it, taking advantage of their situation without taking over-advantage of it. But they realize discovery would end in their ouster. So they benefit without really rising above it. Finally, however, the Parks take off for a long camping weekend for Da Song's birthday and the Kims decide to camp out as a family in the Park's home. And former housekeeper Moon Gwang returns to rescue her husband locked in the secret room in the basement, igniting a desperate war with the Kims.

There is a lot of humor in this film, much of it surrounding the the Kims' dismissive attitudes about the fortunes of others, including the ironic seclusion of the wealthy Parks in their well-guarded tower and then the misfortune of the former housekeeper and her husband at their mercy while they themselves are at their own mercy of discovery. It all comes to a comedic head as the Park family returns early from the camping trip and the two misanthrope families scurry not to be discovered leaving a mess in the house.

The biggest surprise is the ending sequence. I won't spoil it here, but suffice it to say, you won't see it coming and it certainly ties up all the loose ends! Believe me when I say, stay for end if you're tempted to bail early.

This film isn't without its flaws. Its impossible plot points, it's ridiculous ploys. But if you let them pass to enjoy the quirky characters and amazing setting, and frankly the funny script, I think you will agree that Parasite is a pretty good film and maybe all those awards were spot on.

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