We had an old joke at school: are all the tramps in the capital of France called Parasites? The movie – Parasite – actually became the toast of France at the Cannes Festival 2019 when it won the highly acclaimed Palm D’Or.
Directed by Bong Joon Ho, written by Jin Won Han (screenplay) and Bong Joon Ho the film features fantastic cinematography by Kyung-pyo Hong. The film entertains through various styles – at times a farce, a social drama, a witty love story, a romantic fantasy and then a shocking ending that jumps out of nowhere.
Bong Joon Ho made history with his Cannes award as no other South Korean film maker has ever won an award at the festival.
The story revolves around two families in modern day South Korea, one a family living well below the living wage, symbolized by their grotty basement apartment, the other a wealthy family in capitalist luxury whose parents are out of touch and out of synch with their kids.
The two families become embroiled in each other’s lives as each member of the lower class plot to become employed by the other and one by one end up being recruited to work in the house as apparently distant friends: there is a suggestion that all the characters are parasitic to a certain degree, no matter what their situation.
The members of the poor family are supportive and in harmony with each other and despite the fact they have conned their way into the high society of South Korea they start to have a positive effect on their wealthier counterparts with child guidance, and even the new chauffeur with some business advice for the successful and rich father. All seems to be going well until there is a surprise in store (the basement actually) – the discovery of a parasite living in the same house, unknown to anyone. except his wife, the recently-sacked housekeeper who the Mother has replaced.
The seemingly perfect situation of both families careers into a series of bizarre happenings and everything then goes awry. Some of the scenes from then veer between absolute comedy, slapstick, suspense and shock horror.
I watched it recently and had that indescribable feeling that lit up my cells for some hours after I saw it – a feeling I get when I see a masterwork. I won’t go into the scenario too much as I hate critics who ruin films with their pseudo-intellectual knowledge.