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Parasite Movie Review

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Woo-sik Choi in Gisaengchung (2019)

I always try to go into movies without expectations and without preconceptions, but I’m only human, so sometimes that can be tough. It was especially difficult when it comes to Parasite, as I don’t think I’ve heard anybody say they didn’t like it. In fact, most people I’ve heard talk about Parasite seem to put it in a category of its own. I’d also consider myself a fan of Bong Joon-ho. I’ve at least liked every movie I’ve seen of his, and I think he brings a lot of really interesting and fresh ideas to the table which he couples with really great technical direction, but apparently Parasite was going to be the movie to push him to the next level.

Ji-so Jung in Gisaengchung (2019)

Parasite is directed by Bong Joon-ho and stars Kang-ho Song, Woo-Sik Choi, So-dam Park, and Hye-jin Jang in a story about a poor South Korean family that uses its new connection to a wealthier family to try to improve its social status.

Hye-jin Jang, Woo-sik Choi, and So-dam Park in Gisaengchung (2019)

Like I said, before I saw this movie, or even knew what it was about frankly, I heard it was a masterpiece. Well, everyone calling this a masterpiece is 100% correct. Parasite blew me away in just about every way. I don’t remember the last time I felt the way Parasite made me feel leaving the movie theater. It was a combination of hundreds of different feelings, all stemming from the movie itself and the excitement and exhilaration I felt from seeing a movie as good as Parasite. I wasn’t going to write this review because I missed the screening, then I didn’t get around to seeing it until about one week ago, but I just need to talk about it. I need to do my duty as a person who reviews movies to spread the word about how fantastic it is so that we can bump up its North American box office totals because we need more movies like Parasite from creators like Bong Joon-ho.

Kang-ho Song in Gisaengchung (2019)

Everything about this movie is good. I truly can’t pinpoint something about this film that I could see as a potential issue. Are there going to be people who don’t like it? Of course there are. Movies are subjective, which is one reason why they’re so great. That said, personally, and among everyone I’ve talked to about this film, I can’t think of anything I would have changed. At its core, filmmaking is a storytelling medium, and Parasite has one of the best stories of the decade. It’s beyond compelling, and Bong blends genres in this film perfectly without making it feel as though one moment is out of place. There are moments of joy, moments that made me burst out laughing, moments that pushed me toward tears, and moments that made my palms sweat and my heart beat out of my chest while squatting in the theater chair.

Woo-sik Choi and Ji-so Jung in Gisaengchung (2019)

I’m not even quite sure how to classify this film because Bong takes a drama and adds black comedy, horror, suspense, action, and more absolutely seamlessly. Also, each storytelling decision makes sense. I was never able to tell where the story was going, but every beat has reasoning behind it as its driven by something the characters must do when the stakes are constantly sky high. Every single storytelling decision makes sense in a linear progression, but in no way does it ever become predictable.

Woo-sik Choi and So-dam Park in Gisaengchung (2019)

It also continues to add more and more layers to the story as the film goes on. We get to a certain point in this movie where a director probably should have struggled to continue piling onto the plot, but Bong doesn’t. It all makes sense in a story world that feels like it has the history to support every twist and turn. Beats aren’t added solely for the purpose of surprising the audience. They greatly contribute to the story, and despite the constant shock of new information, that information never comes out of left field.

I also adored these characters. Everyone in this film is incredibly imperfect, and their motivations, while simple on the surface, are so complex yet so clear. I understood where each character was coming from in this film, and all of their actions that drive the plot made sense given their social status, their position in the family, or their personal desires. The entire family of main characters quickly became a group of people I latched onto. It might seem that what they’re doing is a bit unscrupulous, but I understood their actions as their means to survival, and they have this distinct charm about them in their intelligence that made me cheer for them. Though I was cheering for them, I wasn’t cheering against anyone else. There definitely isn’t a distinct character villain in this movie, which I think is for the best. Parasite is making a very obvious commentary on social structures and class divides, and that’s enough for audiences to understand that neither of these families needs to be villainous for this story to be enthralling. They feed into the structures of their realities, and they do what they have to do to survive. It’s quite simple, but Bong injects these life-and-death stakes that make the story and the characters so compelling.

Parasite is also a technological marvel. On top of Bong’s direction of the story, the cinematography is gorgeous. It goes right along with the production design and feeds into the message Bong is trying to convey. It’s a beautiful movie at times while purposefully bleak at other points in the film, and Bong does a fantastic job of mixing the two tones while also being very clear about the differences in families and locations. It’s also wonderfully edited. There are multiple different approaches to the editing, which could have come off as inconsistent and jarring, but it makes the film so fresh and unpredictable and gives it fantastic pacing. There also isn’t a single moment I think I’d remove from this movie. It flew by, and I was locked in from the second it started.

Kang-ho Song, Hye-jin Jang, Woo-sik Choi, and So-dam Park in Gisaengchung (2019)

As I said before, it also has very obvious statements it wants to make, which I won’t go too deep into to avoid spoiling anything, but I think that Bong’s method of exploring his ideas makes this movie accessible for anyone around the world.  The movie takes place in South Korea, and obviously there are many details that sell us on the setting, but its messages would be identifiable around the world. I love that Bong isn’t afraid to dive right into his themes and ideologies, and Parasite is probably the best display of his view of the world. Yes, we’ve seen it in his other films, but I don’t think it has ever blended into the story as well as it does here. Bong is able to tell a fantastic story if we look at the story by itself, but it gets even better when we see just what’s on his mind.

Woo-sik Choi and So-dam Park in Gisaengchung (2019)

Overall, I don’t have a bad word to say about Parasite, and I can’t remember the last time I felt this way about a movie. Don’t be surprised if you see it near the top when we start to discuss the best movies of the decade. Also, don’t let subtitles be the thing to hold you back from seeing this in theaters. It’s completely worth it, and I’d guess you’ll forget about them five minutes into the movie. The performances are fantastic, the story is electric, and Bong Joon-ho effortlessly made me feel every single emotion during this movie that kept me on my toes with its unpredictability. There’s tension to the point where I was standing in my chair in the theater, but there are also plenty of laughs to go around, all without any of the tones feeling out of place. It’s also as close to perfect as a film can get from a technical perspective. From the editing to the cinematography to the set design to the camerawork to the effects that I’m pretty sure are practical, everything about Parasite is amazing. I’m going to give Parasite a 10/10!

Will you be seeing Parasite? You can probably guess what I would suggest. If you have seen it, comment down in the comment section to let me know what you think! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at [email protected]