Parasite

Year: 2019
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Rating: 10

An observation my wife made that struck a chord was that one of the joys of watching a foreign film is that typically you aren’t familiar with the actors and have no preconceived notions or biases about them. Of course a brilliant actor can overcome this anyway, but there’s something to said for going into a movie completely blind. Watching Parasite is like opening a Russian doll, except each doll is better than the last and — oh surprise — they’re not dolls. The movie may be best watched spoiler-free, so a heads up before you read further.

The movie begins as we watch a very poor South Korean family, with the help of their clever teenage children, pull off one con after another to worm their way into the lives of a very rich South Korean family. It’s charming, funny, and satisfying, much like any good flim-flam story. Yet halfway though I was apprehensive, anticipating either an uncomfortable tragedy as their con gets unraveled, or an unsatisfying coup as they brilliantly destroy the rich family from their humble beginnings. Thankfully, the movie’s twist and change in genre is entirely unpredictable yet still thematically consistent and a wild ride to boot.

Without saying more, this movie has it all, including subtle and poignant commentary on how classism destroys human lives and our humanity. The script is incredibly tight, and it was a joy to experience each surprise while simultaneously recalling the foreshadowing. It’s clever, funny, poignant, scary, and heartbreaking, and at all the right times. And I’m not sure I could come up with a more fitting title.

A commentary on the subtitles: they’re paced really well, though there’s a handful of moments where the text blends in too much with the background and I was forced to lean in and squint.

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