It’s best not to know too much about Parasite beforehand. It’s the kind of movie that reveals what it needs to reveal when it needs to be revealed. In most circumstances, this could lead to overly-simplistic filmmaking, but in this case, you’re getting something different. Although it does most of the work for you in that manner, you’re actually getting a picture that benefits from this approach as it remains engaging and stimulating throughout its march forward.
The story centers around Ki-woo (Choi Woo Shik) and the Kim family. They’re a household of four who are facing extreme struggles financially. It’s only been getting worse lately, but things begin to look more positive for them when the young man gets an opportunity to work for the wealthy Park family. For him, it starts as a way to make money, but it develops into more than that once he and the rest of his family begin to realize that it might be the golden opportunity they’ve been in dire need of.
One of the ways this movie remains engaging and stimulating is through its characters. Each person we meet has some genuine personality. This is shown whenever we’re introduced to a new character, but it also continues throughout the film. They’re also given distinct attributes that set themselves apart from one another. Some are more amusing and upbeat while others are more serious. Regardless, they blend well together and keep you involved the entire time.
This also helps when looking at the length of the movie. These days, most movies seem to be much longer than they need to be. And in some cases, the characters we’re asked to follow are as boring and as bland as you can get. This kind of thing happens so often, I sometimes worry when I see that a movie might get close to reaching two hours. In plenty of instances, my fears are proven correct as more and more pictures are being damaged by unnecessarily long runtimes.
So seeing that Parasite was over two hours did have me worried a bit at first. Luckily, not only are we getting exceptional characters, the movie itself is one of those pictures that pretty much uses every minute at its disposal to do or say something. Rather than wasting time, they build up the characters when they’re supposed to as well as introduce twists to keep things interesting all while moving the central story along while never allowing it to grow stagnant.
This is how movies should be made. I’m not saying it’s perfect or that it’s the best I’ve ever seen, but it embodies what a movie could and should be if you’re actually making a movie with the hopes of entertaining while crafting a well-structured picture. It’s a shame that we don’t get more movies featuring this kind of craftsmanship. If we did, the film industry would be much stronger.
In breaking down this movie, I’ll say that the earliest portions are a lot of fun and hilarious at times. It can be classified as a dark comedy of sorts as what’s happening isn’t exactly right morally. However, you can empathize with these characters while also wanting to see how they’re going to work within the framework of their current existence. This alone can grab your attention and make you want to keep watching.
Overall, this portion of Parasite is good by itself. In fact, I kind of wanted to stay here the entire time. If this was what the whole movie was about, there’s a chance that my positive view of Parasite as a film wouldn’t have changed much. That’s because what’s here is excellent and the filmmaker behind it clearly has a handle on what it is that he has in possession.
As much as I would have been open to continuing down this path, I’m actually kind of glad the man behind this (Bong Joon Ho) chose to change course and move into other directions. If he hadn’t done so, we wouldn’t have gotten the shift in tone that brings forth new features and dynamics. That shift in itself not only adds on to the existing story and its characters, it gives the movie a chance to become darker while remaining fluid in its storytelling.
Once it shows up, the shift is easy to see and feel. When it happens, it’s sudden, but the transition itself takes its time somewhat as the comedic aspects never really leave in spite of its tonal deviation. The funniest moments from this point forward just kind of move into the background to some degree as other aspects are pushed closer toward the center.
Combined, both parts of Parasite make for a unique feature film that flows extremely well and is easy to follow in spite of all of its moving parts. That might be the main factor that contributes to the success of this film. It works in a way that makes it accessible to those who want to be mentally stimulated as well as those who simply want to enjoy a movie.
Because Bong Joon Ho wants to excite his audience, he makes sure to keep the suspense coming. To achieve this, he makes sure that we never know what direction Parasite is going to take us. That’s even true of the ending. It happens to be logical and it fits in with the rest of what we get, but I don’t think anyone will be able to predict how it all concludes.
It goes without saying, but Parasite is one of the absolute best films of the year. In the current state of 2019, that’s not saying a whole lot on its own, but this would be considered a strong feature film in any year. It has the kind of quality that leads me to believe that the vast majority of people who see it will like it. I’m rarely able to say that, but this is the type of movie that I can confidently recommend to anyone.
Director: Bong Joon Ho
Bong Joon Ho
Han Jin Won
Song Kang Ho
Lee Sun Kyun
Cho Yeo Jeong
Choi Woo Shik
Park So Dam,
Lee Jung Eun
Chang Hyae Jin
Film Length: 131 minutes
October 11, 2019 (New York & Los Angeles)
October 15, 2019 (Limited)
October 25, 2019 (Expanded Wide)
November 1, 2019 (Wide)
Distributor: NEON Rated
- Score - 8.5/108.5/10