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New to Digital/DVD/Blu-Ray - PARASITE

parasite review
A struggling family con their way into the employ of a wealthy couple.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Bong Joon-ho

Starring: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam


parasite bluray

Boudo saves himself from drowning, only to land in further hot water, in Parasite, a peach ripe class satire from Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho. The Boudo in this analogy is the Kim family, who live in poverty in a bug-infested basement hovel, scrounging for odd jobs wherever they can pick them up.

Joon-ho opens his film with the first of several astutely observed micro-commentaries on 21st century capitalism as the Kims discover the Wi-Fi they've been bumming off their upstairs neighbours is no longer accessible, the password having been changed. This leaves them unable to access the internet to check for replies to their job applications, which in the past would have simply been delivered in the mail. Once as much of a luxury as cable TV, internet access has now become as necessary in a home as electricity and running water. Our embracing of technology has made assumptions regarding affordability, and those on the lowest rungs of the social ladder have been left in the dark.


parasite review

The Kims see a way out of their struggles when son Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) lands a job tutoring English to Da-hye (Jeong Ji-so), the teenage daughter of the Parks - Yeon-gyo (Cho Yeo-jeong) and Dong-ik (Lee Sun-kyun), a wealthy couple who live in a spacious domicile designed by a leading architect. When Yeon-gyo mentions how she is struggling to find an art tutor for her nine-year-old son, Da-song (Jung Hyeon-jun), Ki-woo feeds her a story of a family acquaintance recently returned from studying art at an American college. He's actually referring to his sister, Ki-jeong (Park So-dam), who bluffs her way into the role. Through further sly machinations, their father, Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho), and mother, Chung-sook (Chang Hyae-jin), are installed as chauffeur and housekeeper to the Parks.

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I won't spoil the methods employed by the Kims in their quest to fully infiltrate the Parks, as to do so would be to dilute the thrilling effect of how Joon-ho lays out his protagonists' sneaky plans. There is something fascinating about watching characters who are very skilled in a particular field of endeavour go about their business. In the case of the Kims, their actions are downright despicable, yet for the most part we're on their side. In no small part, this is because we admire their ingenuity. The fact that people who are so resourceful and clever have to use underhanded tactics to simply obtain positions of low-level employment is a cutting satirical commentary on the state of the world economy.


parasite review

Just as the Kims are revelling in their newfound, relative wealth, a spanner is thrown in the works of their scam with one heck of a plot twist. Again, I'll allow you to discover the details of this yourself, but it's yet another biting statement on how the wealthy are often oblivious to those living beneath them.

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I've struggled with Joon-ho's most recent films, his western collaborations Snowpiercer  and Okja, whose satire and commentary I found so on-the-nose as to prove largely unbearable. Thankfully, the blunt sermonising of those movies has been put aside for Parasite. It would have been easy to paint the Parks as a collection of one-note snobs, but they're mostly an okay lot. Like most rich folk, they aren't willingly contributing to making life more difficult for the rest of us - they simply haven't given such an idea any thought. They're too involved with themselves, their living room wall adorned with giant pictures of the Park family gleaming their million dollar smiles, a tapestry of narcissism. Their appropriation of Native American culture speaks volumes about their aspirations to live like Americans and their tone deafness in not realising that actually, they're not the Indians, they're the cowboys.


parasite review

After holding back for so long, unfortunately Joon-ho gives into his baser instincts in the movie's climax, whose over the top, farcical nature jars with the restrained and observant satire we've thus far witnessed. It plays out like the ending you might expect from its inevitable Hollywood remake. Perhaps, like the Parks, Joon-ho has learnt the wrong lessons from America.

Parasite is on UK Digital, DVD and blu-ray June 1st.




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