Film: The Parasite
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Chang Hyae-jin, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Lee Jung-eun
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Rating : ****
This brilliant character-driven film from acclaimed South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho brims with humour and insights into the wretched human condition, while it follows a family of scamsters which preys on the wealthy. The Kim family comprising dad Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho), mother Chung-sook (Hyae Jin Chang), daughter Ki-jung (Park So-dam), and son Ki-woo (Choi Woo-sik) live hand to mouth in their basement home in a slum.
Using false pretences, Ki-woo begins to tutor small Park Da-hye (Jung Ziso), the pubescent daughter of wealthy Dong-ik (Lee Sun-kyun), and his naive wife Yeon-gyo (Cho Yeo-jeong). Soon enough, Ki-jung gets hired as an art therapist for the Park’s youngest son, Da-song (Jung Hyeon-jun).
A couple of cunningly-plotted schemes result in the Park’s chauffeur and loyal housekeeper Gook Moon-gwang (Lee Jung-eun) who harbours a secret, replaced by Ki-taek and Chung-sook. Just as this family of cons gets comfortable (and complacent) there is a radical shift in their fortunes.
Bong’s film illuminates the lack of fellowship and empathy on both sides of the class divide. His sympathy and compassion for the poor is palpable but he is very clear about their flaws. The poor are not innocent, if anything, they are wolves in sheep’s clothing, having absolutely no compunctions in ripping off their rich selfish employers. Collaborating on the thoughtful script with Jin-won, director Bong casts a non-judgemental spotlight on an existential battle between the poverty stricken and the callous wealthy.
The Parasite’s Palme d’Or at Cannes for Best Picture is well deserved and yes, it ought to win at the Golden Globes and the Oscars as well.