I first became aware of 'Parasite' midway through 2019, thanks to YouTube reviewers Grace Randolph and John Campea who spoke highly of it. As 'Second Runner Up' at the ‘Toronto International Film Festival’ (along with it's winner JoJo Rabbit which I was also eager to see) it became very much on my radar as a film not to miss. As with 'JoJo Rabbit', it never hit cinemas until very late in the day and with such a limited release when it finally did, I still hadn’t managed to catch it.... Until now!
On my trip to New York this last week I was pleased to find it was one of the in flight movies available and I excitedly put it on before the plane had even left the runway! Obviously by this time my expectations were high due to its many awards and recent Oscar wins, including the prestigious ‘Best Film’ award. I tried to forget the hype and simply absorb it for myself with no expectations, as all too often increased conjecture can actually ruin an otherwise perfectly good movie.
The film started and I was immediately struck by the beauty of the cinematography with the way it panned from the street to the dwellings where 'Song Kang Ho' and the 'Kims' lived. The beauty captured in the most deprived of environments, set the tone perfectly for what was to come. You immediately connected with who this family were and the daily struggles they faced.
I actually knew nothing about this films narrative upon seeing it and had tried to derive from it’s title what I thought it may be about. Needless to say I was wrong. It was not a film about insects, gangsters or anything remotely related to those lines of thinking. Instead it was a straight forward, shrewd and amusing story about a family down on their luck and trying to better their situation. How they go about it is ingenious and engaging from beginning to end. As with any great plot things don’t always go to plan and there are some genuine surprises along the way. I thought Kim Ki-jung (below, left) who played daughter ‘Park So Dam’ was fantastic and I hope to see more of her work going forward.
I was completely immersed in this world and pleading for the characters to make different choices at times, with each development which transpired simply heightening the stakes of their story further. There were some genuine laugh out loud moments - one in particular which I watched several times unable to believe it had happened - and a few genuine shocks along the way. The fact I needed to watch with subtitles due to it being a non English film didn’t impact my experience either. In fact I think it only enhanced it further as it allowed that world to completely consume me.
This truly is the film of the year for me and as someone who adored Joker, JoJo Rabbit, Ford V Ferrari, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, Marriage Story and Avengers: Endgame, I do not say this lightly. A true masterpiece from Bong Joon Ho of not only foreign cinema, but cinema - period. I often prefer films from outside of Hollywood which feature lesser known actors as I feel they are more ‘real’ and usually have better stories to tell tell than what Tinseltown regularly churns out to the masses. If you haven’t seen ‘Parasite’ yet make sure you do - It may just be your film of the year too!