By Megan Bianco
I’ve seen some film fans cheekily refer to Bong Jong-hoo’s Parasite this month as a psychotic episode of “It’s Always Sunny in South Korea” (a play on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) or “Arrested Development.”
The comparisons are amusingly fitting, although ultimately simplistic when actually studying the new foreign language feature. There are so many twists and turns the story takes through its 2-hour runtime, that it would be difficult to properly detail the plot. So to not possibly spoil any of the movie’s brilliance, I’ll just summarize the first 30 minutes.
In a fictionalized, unnamed South Korean town, the Kim family live in the poorest neighborhood. Parents Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho) and Chung-sook (Jang Hye-jin) are unemployed and struggling in the current economy, while their young adult children Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) and Ki-jeong (Park So-dam) are struggling to work without college educations. One of Ki-woo’s old school friends, Min-hyuk (Park Seo-joon) convinces him that he can make some easy money from being a phony tutor to gullible families. Ki-woo then takes up Min’s offer to replace him as the English tutor of the richest family in the region.
Parasite is Bong’s first fully Korean production in a decade since branching out to Hollywood for the critical darlings Snowpiercer (2013) and Okja (2017). As with Memories of Murder (2003) and The Host (2006), and now Parasite, the filmmaker shows once again that he is one of the most confident and natural auteurs currently working in film.
All of his actors are spot on in their portrayals of either the lower class or the wealthy, which helps the movie work as both commentary and satire. Most surprising is that the actors playing teens and young adults were over 18 during filming, yet their performances feel completely real. This is one of those movies that hits multiple emotions—shock, humor, tragedy—and yet doesn’t feel out of place or badly paced.
With the exception of a couple of moments that go a little over the line with suspending disbelief, Parasite is easily the best foreign film of 2019.
Megan Bianco is a Southern California-based movie reviewer and content writer with a degree from California State University Northridge.
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