That South Korean cinema is among the most inventive and interesting in the world is now well known to the most cinephile Western public. From Kim ki-duk (Pietà, Iron 3) to Park chan-wook (Old Boy, Lady Vendetta) South Korean film production has been able to forcefully cross national borders, managing, through a bewitching exotic guise, to excite, involve and sometimes upset the world audience. P di Boon Joon-ho it is certainly among the latter.
After conquering the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Parasite is ready, in this early 2020, to battle in the race for videogamingallday.com, strong of be nomination "Heavy" including the one for the best film and for the best direction.
War of the Worlds
Parasite is the story of a family, the Kims, who live, or rather survive, in a spartan basement of a working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of an unspecified city in Korea. None of the family members have a job and they live off small and occasional low paid jobs and the unemployment benefit of their father Kim Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho). Apparently they have no talent, no traits that could somehow make them hope for a better future, a chance to climb any social ladder.The class struggle is the pivot around which the entire work revolves, very lucid in declining the theme through its many facets and updating it in our days.
One day Min-Hyuk, a college student friend of the Kim's eldest son, Ki-Woo (Choi Woo-shik) proposes to the boy to take his job as an English language tutor for Da-Hye, the eldest daughter of the very wealthy Park family. A unique opportunity for Ki-Woo who will try to extend the benefits of working at the Parks to the whole Kim family.
The class struggle is the pivot around which the entire work revolves, very lucid in declining the theme through its many facets and updating it in our days. The sociological analysis of the Korean filmmaker is mercilessly bitter and photographs with pregnant metaphors the distance between two adjacent but distant worlds, that of the bourgeois Park and that of the proletarian Kim.
There is such awareness of the inability of the Kims to cross the boundaries of their own class, that they willingly accept their status as parasites (hence the title). And like parasites they try to procure the necessary for survival which, in the contemporary era, is not only food but also the Wi-Fi necessary for the use of Whatsapp.
For their part, the Parks, behind a facade of education and respectability, show all the symptoms of those who believe they can control the world (and people) through money. "They are kind because they are rich," says Chung-sook (Chang Hyae-jin), mother of Ki-Taek, at a certain point in the film, but in the face of the possibility of losing one's privileges, no one has any qualms, and indeed the most ruthless fight is precisely that between parasites.
The window on the courtyard.
Parasite is a work that thrives on contrasts but also on symbolism. Primarily a symbolism of the places, which tell and complement the characters as if they were extensions of the same.
On one side, the dingy basement of the Kims, infested with cockroaches, filled with piles of piled-up stuff, with a bathroom with toilets placed on a kind of eerie elevation. On the other hand, the luxurious villa of the Parks, a real jewel of modern architecture with its reflective surfaces, large and almost empty spaces, the bathroom with TV on the whirlpool tub.
A symbolism that is sublimated in the parallelism between the living room window of the outcasts Kim, which overlooks directly at street level and on which drunkards urinate and the immense glass window overlooking the Park garden, a place of immutable and almost unreal beauty. And yet, paradoxically, the first window has a look on the real world where the second looks like a mirror built precisely to continue ignoring reality, basking in ephemeral beauty.
Many souls, one body.
The most amazing feature of Parasite undoubtedly lies in Boon Joon-ho's ability to play with various registers of genres. In fact, the film immediately presents itself as a black comedy and then turns towards thriller, drama and even horror. The viewer is continually disoriented but the unpredictability of the story manages to attract their attention in a way that is as peculiar as it is effective.The most amazing feature of Parasite undoubtedly lies in Boon Joon-ho's ability to play with various registers of genres.
The many souls of Parasite never end up undermining its compactness and the film is perfectly cohesive.
Certainly the merit of a lucid and meticulous writing work that does not proceed to accumulate just for the sake of it but works with chisel to create a fresco in which the multitude of elements works in unison, increasing its value.
Also thanks to the extraordinary interpretations that the entire cast gave to the film and which earned the victory SAG Award 2020.
To support all the extraordinary work done by direction and photography. From a formal point of view, Parasite is in fact a work of crystalline value. Boon Joon-ho and the director of photography Hong Kyung-pyo they demonstrate an extraordinary competence and knowledge of film language. And so Parasite visually explodes with an astonishing aesthetic vigor and equally rich in symbolism.
Each shot seems to be the subject of a long study and each camera movement carefully calibrated. The composition of the full and long shots, of which the film makes extensive use, is amazing, with shots composed on several levels for an excellent expressive yield.
Finally, the editing is equally adept at dealing with the changes of pace required by the script. The rhythm is perfect at all times and some particularly creative scene passages leave you speechless. The videogamingallday.com nomination for best editing is further confirmation.
Parasite is therefore in all probability the most successful work of Boon Joon-ho and the epithet of masterpiece is not excessive. One of the best films of 2019 (if not the best) and an experience that every cinephile should guarantee.
The return home after the American film experiences (Snowpiercer, Okay) and the social issue have reinvigorated the cinema of the Korean director who has given us a work of perfect form and content which, I am sure, will set the standard for years to come.
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