Hilarious and thought-provoking, Parasite is a social satire for everyone

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Hilarious and thought-provoking, Parasite is a social satire for everyone

There’s something about a foreign language film that I find immensely enticing. 

Whether it be because of the freedom from the choking grip of Hollywood or because of the straightforward fact that they aren’t in English, foreign films are—for better or for worse—always refreshing. 

Parasite is no exception, and its brilliance reaches far beyond its simple categorization as a foreign film. 

Set in modern-day South Korea, Parasite follows the working-class Kim family. Living on the edge of poverty in a destitute half-underground apartment with barely just the necessities, the Kims pick up odd jobs folding pizza boxes and steal neighbors’ wifi as they try to get by. While the Kims manage to make money every now and then, they are all unemployed, none of them working a long-term job.

When Ki-woo (Choi Woo-sik), the college-aged son, is presented with an opportunity to tutor the daughter of a rich family, he hungrily snatches it up with bogus documents forged flawlessly by his older sister, Ki-jung (Park So-dam). 

The Park family is the wealthy family in question, a beautifully gullible set of four. Comprised of a loveless marriage and two simple-minded children, they are wholly and ridiculously dysfunctional: the perfect target for the Kims. 

Through their endless wit, each of the Kims land a job serving the family, slowly and carefully, job by job. With a quick Google search of what art therapy is, Ki-jung becomes an art teacher for the foolish son. After the easy openings are exhausted, the patriarch steals the job of a driver and the matriarch that of a housekeeper. 

Both families carry their own unique humor, the Kims in their cunning and the Parks in their idiocy. Together, the juxtaposition of the two weaves a web of lies and facades that drives the film forward and truly captivated me from the very first moments. 

The humor that is born out of the situation is unfalteringly sharp and exquisitely complex. Lies and schemes overlap to create a satire that provided genuine social commentary while still remaining uncommonly funny. 

While the social satire was directed toward class warfare in South Korea, the film’s messages rings painfully true an ocean away. The contrast between the Kims and the Parks allows for an unsettling exploration of class differences and capitalism. The dynamic of rich and poor creates the film’s unique humor, but that same dynamic invariably reminds the audience of the legitimacy of the Kims’ struggles. 

Through both the realities of the world and what is created on screen, Parasite easily crosses language and cultural barriers in a culmination that could only have been the work of acclaimed director Bong Joon-ho. 

In Bong’s signature style, Parasite snakes in and out of multiple genres and moods, from light-hearted comedy to psychological thriller, hitting everything in between. While it would be easy to assume that such flow would be chaotic and make the film messy and unenjoyable, Bong’s unmistakably masterful touch makes the film seamless, in part due to the pure beauty of it. 

Each frame is perfectly composed for the specific scene’s purposes; the obvious care made even the simplest of moments feel special. From a single light flickering to a night of booming thunder, every scene was visually stunning.

Ki-woo and Ki-jung search for WiFi.

With these visuals brought together by a brilliant soundtrack, Parasite is undoubtedly a technical masterpiece. From a pure entertainment standpoint, it’s arguably perfect and impressively accessible. Beyond this, though, Parasite is more complex and imaginative than I could ever express. 

It’s all too easy to get caught up on what’s on the surface, but what the film says under its packaging has continued to haunt me ever since I walked out of the theater.  

The schemes of the Kims and the Parks are entirely superficial, but the backdrop for these interactions is just as completely real. While the world that these families live in seems almost a dystopia, Bong doesn’t shy away from reminding the audience that these conditions are derived from the world we live in. 

An austere snapshot of reality weaved together with a lighthearted comedy, Parasite is well worth anyone’s time, as long as they don’t mind spending a few days deliberating over it afterward.

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