© Koch Films/Central

Parasite (Gisaengchung)
South Korea 2019

Opening 17 Oct 2019

Directed by: Joon-ho Bong
Writing credits: Joon-ho Bong, Jin Won Han
Principal actors: Kang-ho Song, Sun-kyun Lee, Yeo-jeong Jo, Woo-sik Choi, Hye-jin Jang

Bong Joon Ho delivers a brilliant and breezy black comedic thriller as memorable as Snowpiercer, 2013. The South Korean director’s creative juices were richly flowing to produce this imaginative storyline; the screenplay, co-written with Jin Won Han, and the cast are excellent. Parasite’s tempo cunningly intensifies; just when someone thinks they have figured out the plot, there is a twist that changes the film’s tone whereafter the suspense escalates. It would be a mistake to attempt out-guessing Bong – this filmmaker controls his craft.

The unemployed Kim family always has a plan, and currently it concerns survival. In their seedy, dank apartment Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho) directs Ki-jung (Park So-dam) and younger, college-age Ki-woo (Woo-sik Choi) while mom (Hyae Jin Chang) scurries about. Then Min (Park Seo-joon, cameo) drops by to enlist Ki-woo’s help with his plan. Obligingly, Ki-woo journeys to the Parks’ luxuriously appointed and staffed mansion. While gazing at the opulent surroundings, he charms daughter Da-hye (Jung Ji-so) securing the position. Mission accomplished. Until Ki-woo learns their youngster requires a teacher. Hmm… the plot thickens when “Jessica”/Ki-jung applies, and then, Mr. (Lee Sun-kyun) and Mrs. Parks’ (Cho Yeo-Jeong). Eventually, only one thing stands in the Kim’s way: Geun-sae (Park Myung-hoon) and wife Moon-kwang (Lee Jung-eun). Adding to that conundrum are altered plans, fate, and nature; taken together, it is a surefire combination for misfire.

Parasite displays a distinct level of artistry: Hong Kyung-pyo’s faultless cinematography; Jung Jaeil’s delicate music; Yang Jinmo’s perceptive editing, and Lee Ha-jun’s emotive production design. Parasite won South Korea its first Palme d’Or at Cannes, and is its submission for the 92nd Academy Awards Best International Feature Film category. Bong’s cleverness keeps us surprised in this timely, cautionary social commentary about symbiotic antibiosis and its aftermath. Per the director’s request to critics, refuse to let anyone tell you the ending; instead, experience the fun firsthand. “You know what kind of plan that never fails? No plan. … Because life cannot be planned.” (Marinell Haegelin)

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