Oldboy, Memories of Murder, The Handmaiden,…the list could go on. Before Parasite (2019) was created, the Korean film industry (Hallyuwood?) had hundreds of potential award-baggers under in its belt. While the movie is commendable for its inspiring and engaging performance in several facets; was the recent intention to be racially diverse a key contributing factor to the movie’s success in the Academy Awards? Or does the movie have a natural genius about it that compelled such a noteworthy accolade to succumb to it.
Parasite begins with the impression of being a very low budget movie; a very blatantly ensemble cast sitting around a table, in a semi-basement which they call home. The movie lays seeds for misdirection from the very beginning, the script doesn’t allow for predictions. That one annoying friend who likes to predict what happens next might not be very pleased with this one.
Stricken hard with poverty, the family has developed rugged traits that are expressive of the hardships they face on a day to day basis, from peeing drunks to accepting food from their guest, this family seems very dysfunctional at first. Until, Kevin gets a tutor job through a friend.
Kevin quickly seizes that opportunity to get his sister a foot into the rich family he serves. Here is where the real unity between the members comes to light. Surprisingly coordinated and sharp, they seem to have a grasp on their skills and begin to leech onto the family till all four have a job serving some aspect of the family.
All the characters have been given a firm foundation at the point, through the use of subtle cues, capturing facial expressions of the characters and the use of body language as a key tool in narration lands a refreshing experience.
No character arc is spared any surprise, even the ever-present, perfect maid of the house is flawed in that she hides her husband in the secret bunker basement; the lady of the house, a simpleton at first, is a junkie; the man of the house has character flaws that lead the father of our dysfunctional bunch, Kim Ki-Taek (Played by a very prominent actor Song Kang-Ho) to stab him in the neck. Although this does paint a very grim picture of the world, the movie tells us the world as it is and doesn’t leave much to interpretation.
The ending however is left open ended purposely. Humans crave mystery and till now the movie has been explicitly transferring info in great detail through the story, subtle cues and character definitions. The ending is the finely chopped coriander on every Indian dish. The ending makes us wonder if Kevin ever actually grew economically, enough to buy the house and free his father from the allure of the house that is the basement.
The movie has proven its genius in the cinematography section too. The apparently dysfunctional family is often shown in one frame, around a table; whilst the economically superior family is hardly ever shown in one frame, let alone sitting together. The only time we see the family ever truly together in one frame is literally in a photograph that hangs on a wall. The genius of this effect is such that it makes us realize and divorce the prejudices associated with the Kim family and take a more critical stance at the Park family.
The pastel colours that predominantly rule the aesthetics of the movie feel like visual misdirection to the heart throbbing moments that lie ahead.
Parasite, aptly named so, is a movie that breaks all the norms. Not your usual Oscar-baity film; doesn’t deal with social issues, doesn’t pander to any audience in particular, the first non-English language movie too.
Parasite deserves all the recognition it gets, and hopefully, we shall see more “foreign” language movies being pushed ahead on the global stage.
Foxyturnip gives it 9/10 turnips!
IMDB gives it 8.6/10 with over 330,000 votes.
Rotten Tomatoes gives it 99% with 426 reviews