Cannes 2019: Bong Joon-ho's Brilliant Dark Comedy 'Parasite' Rules
by Alex Billington
May 22, 2019
Bong Joon-ho reigns!! I didn't think he could be any better than he has already been (almost every film he has made is fantastic - from Memories of Murder to Okja), but South Korean master filmmaker Bong Joon-ho has delivered yet another near-perfect film. His latest film is titled Parasite, a dark comedy with some twists and turns and shocking moments and hilarious moments, and it's absolutely amazing. A complete and total knockout, a masterpiece of cinema. Oh my goodness gracious, it's so fucking good. This is one of Bong Joon-ho's best films, and I LOVE all of his films, so it's hard to even say that this is better than any of them before but he might just be getting better the more he makes. A complex construction of satire and social commentary worked into an intelligent, amusing, devious, uniquely-Korean script that is a total knockout.
It doesn't take long once the film gets going to figure out that Bong Joon-ho's Parasite is a take down of rich people. It's another film pitting different social classes against each other – this time complete opposites. A poor family that lives in a junky basement works their way into the life of an affluent, upper class family. At first they sneak into their home and their wallets through made-up jobs, like tutoring and art therapy, but soon takeover their home entirely. This is what makes it a dark comedy, but also what makes it an incredibly clever commentary on wealth and social status. I recommend watching Parasite without knowing anything else about it before you go in. This may not make sense at first, but you'll understand once you see it, once the crazy shit starts happening and the rollercoaster dips and dives into the chaos of Korean society. Just put your hands up and smile and cheer and laugh as Bong Joon-ho takes you on a wild ride through wealth.
Anyone that has ever seen a Bong Joon-ho film knows that he's a master filmmaker, more than just a master storyteller. The way he positions and moves the camera, and composes every single shot is as brilliant as the script itself. That brilliance continues in Parasite, with the blocking of actors and their movement working in perfectly natural harmony with the cinematography and storytelling. The richness of color and clarity in every shot is stunning, awe-inspiring visual cinema. Especially once they get into this wealthy house, which features a gorgeously lush green backyard often used to juxtapose the simplicity of the home with this tiny patch of nature covering up the rest of the slum of the city. But just like in nature, the city works its way into the home and slowly takes over feeding on their great wealth - much like a parasite, hence the title. Every performance is dialed in and feels so real and lively and accurate. There's nothing I can even nitpick in this.
Part of the brilliance of this film is how entertaining and hilarious it is. Bong Joon-ho, along with co-writers Dae-hwan Kim and Jin Won Han, devises a story that pulls you in and allows you to feel for and sympathize with this family. As careless as they seem, and as much as they're taking advantage of rich people, you want them to win. You'll literally cheer at certain moments because they're getting away with things and pulling off these sneaky tricks, and it's so cathartically satisfying to watch. That entire family – played perfectly by Kang-ho Song, Hyae Jin Chang, Woo-sik Choi, and So-dam Park – gives this film so much life. And the score by Jaeil Jung adds another layer that makes it an entirely perfect film to watch on the big screen. I love Bong and I love that he continues to make dazzling, dark, twisted, brilliant films that everyone enjoys.
Alex's Cannes 2019 Rating: 10 out of 10
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