So poor they live in a subterranean hovel that regularly floods or fills with toxic fumes courtesy of the local exterminators, the Kim family live desperate lives, working low-paid, menial jobs to try and get by. 

When college-aged son Ki-woo (Choi Wook-sik), despite lacking a college education or any real qualifications, inherits a job from a more affluent student friend as an English tutor for the daughter of a fabulously wealthy family, the Parks, he senses a golden opportunity the whole family can capitalise on. Masquerading as a middleclass scholar he ingratiates himself and set’s about engineering the hiring of his cheerfully amoral sister Ki-jeong (Park So-dam) as the Parks’ traumatised son’s art tutor. 

Together they start plotting to secure jobs for Mum and Dad by getting rid of the Park family’s chauffeur and housekeeper respectively. But as the Kims slowly invade the Parks’ lives and home, a dark parable of aspiration, greed, identity and class warfare…

Winner of last year’s Palme d’Or as well as two BAFTAs and a Golden Globe, Bong Joon-ho’s blackly comic thriller, Parasite, is now looking like a major Oscar contender. It can’t win obviously. It’s foreign for starters. And it’s smart; a slyly satirical dissection of class, identity and a condemnation of the increasingly yawning gulf between modern capitalist society’s haves and haven’t-got-a-hopes. But it also celebrates the bonds of family and, by extension, the solidarity of the underclass, the Kims’ scheme to fleece the Parks only coming a cropper when they lose sight of that solidarity and come into conflict with fellow con artists, equally desperate to survive. It can’t possibly win. It won’t win. Will it?

Gripping and funny, Parasite is a truly adult drama, daring to give us conventionally unlikeable but richly complex protagonists in an intricate and scathing piece of social commentary masquerading as a thriller, the wealthy Parks as much parasites on society as the Kims are on them, both families locked in a cycle of greed and exploitation that will ultimately consume them all. To tell you anything more would ruin the bittersweet exquisite pleasures Parasite offers; best entered as free of preconception and spoilers as possible, Bong’s script (which recently won the film a much deserved BAFTA) as tight as a Swiss watch, his supremely talented cast (led by regular collaborator Song Kang-ho) are wonderful and the film is beautifully composed, the movie’s early, lighter comedy of manners morphing into something more savage, an uncompromising vision of a decaying, corrupt society where there are no good guys, no bad guys, just victims.

Stunning and unpredictable, see Parasite before the inevitable Hollywood remake that will make you want to stab yourself in the eyes. It really is as good as everyone’s saying.

Movie Review: Parasite
5.0Overall Score
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