"They Are Nice Because They Are Rich": Parasite is a Darkly Funny Satirical Masterpiece
The film works beautifully as a poignant satire of class struggle in modern society, but Bong doesn't settle on it being mere agitprop.
America has a very strange relationship between the rich and the poor. I was shocked when a certain politician referred to it as the land of "the haves and the soon-to-haves" because it is inherently ridiculous. In a world with "winners" and "losers" so to speak, there can be no winner unless someone else is losing and many people will work as hard as they can but never rise in class. It seems these issues are prominent in South Korea as well, as evidenced by films like Burning and Bong Joon-ho's (Memories of Murder, Snowpiercer) new masterpiece, Parasite, a film that takes class struggle to its dark, logical conclusion. I don't think a more socially radical film has been released all year.
Following the unemployed Kim family, the film shows them living in a squalid basement apartment and doing whatever they can to merely get to the next day. This all changes when young Kim Ki-woo (Choi Woo-sik) gets a job as a tutor for the wealthy Park family. Soon the Kims are finding ways to get the other employees of the family fired so they can take over the vacant positions, but when they discover a secret under the foundation of the Parks' home, things turn tragic.
The film works beautifully as a poignant satire of class struggle in modern society, but Bong doesn't settle on it being mere agitprop. It is also highly entertaining and very often darkly funny. However, the anger never leaves — as demonstrated in the rainstorm scene — as he juxtaposes both families' positions. One comfortably watches the storm in their home while simultaneously the poor families are literally drowning in theirs. It doesn't get more pointed than that. — Forest Taylor
Directed by: Bong Joon-ho // Written by: Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won // Starring: Song Kang-ho, Jang Hye-jin, Choi Woo-sik, Park So-dam, Lee Sun-kyun, Jo Yeo-jeong, Jung Ji-so, Jung Hyun-jun, Lee Jeong-eun, and Park Meong-hoon // 132 minutes // Rated R