Parasite: Bong Joon-ho’s Crowning Achievement

Choi Woo Shik, Song Kang Ho, Lee Jung Eun, and Park So Dam in Parasite

All too often, the media tends to over-hype things. While over-hyping may be a wonderful way to get the word out about a particular film, show, or album, it can also come back to haunt the creators or the creation itself. So much hype can lead to exorbitantly high expectations which, if unmet, may leave a sour taste in the consumer’s mouth. Before I saw Bong Joon Ho’s 2019 Korean family-drama “Parasite,” I’d already heard countless people praise it to an unbelievable degree. This, undoubtedly, worried me. The film had the potential of becoming my favorite film of all time. Such high expectations should never be set prior to viewing. But alas, there I was at my local theater, with my wife, at 10:30 p.m. on a Sunday night waiting patiently for the film to start.

I’m not going to say that I’ve seen every one of Director Bong’s films (although I will attempt to do so as soon as possible). I do, however, quite like his two previous films, Okja and Snowpiercer (which, coincidentally, are the only films of his I saw before watching Parasite).

At the time of writing this, three days have passed since I watched the film and I’m still thinking about it. It is easily the best film I saw from 2019 (even though I saw it in 2020). There’s something so uncanny about how Director Bong directs, the stories he weaves, and the threads of comedy that stitch the entire film together. There are these subtle moments of tension where the viewers feel as if something terrible is about to happen, like when Kim Ki-taek (Song Kang Ho) keeps looking at  Park Dong-ik (Lee Sun Kyun) in the backseat of the Mercedes-Benz as he drives through the busy South Korean streets. But Song never gets in an accident, these moments are just there to place a gentle sense of unease in the narrative.

Parasite is one of those movies that can easily become a cult-classic. A film that people will rewatch, over and over. I think this is derived from the multiple shifts in tone that Director Bong achieves so seamlessly. The first half of Parasite is very silly, almost like a comedy, but then there’s that sharp left turn when the dream-like reality the main family finds themselves in instantly crumbles before them. But the family they’re working for is none the wiser, their eyes are clouded by their elite status. They don’t know what’s going on right under their feet. Even after the bloody knife attack during the young son’s impromptu birthday party, the rich family is still naive about everything that’s going on. To them, a crazed man simply broke in and went on a rampage. It’s obvious that people have made and will continue to make countless think pieces about what “Parasite” truly means. I could go into my own thoughts but the true beauty of the film is that every viewer (and I bet that every subsequent watch) will have a different interpretation.

Parasite has been nominated for a handful of Academy Awards, notably for Best Picture and Best Director. Sure, the Oscars don’t really mean anything but I think Parasite should win in these two categories. If anything, Parasite winning Best Film means that a large number of people will watch it, and that’s what the film deserves. I’m certain I’ll keep thinking about Parasite for the next few days. I’ve never had an experience of this caliber while watching a film, and I hope more people get to experience the same feelings as I did. I’m aware that I’m guilty of hyping this film up to the point of hyperbole, but it’s just that good. Everything you’ve heard about it is true, so you need to see it sooner rather than later.