Runtime: 132 mins
Release date: November 8, 2019
Directed by: Bong Joon-Ho
Starring: Song Kang-ho
2019 was a great year for movies. Even so, it seems as if no film from last year was as universally acclaimed by both audiences and critics as “Parasite.” I make no exaggeration when I say I have heard of only one person who did not love it—this one example being the notorious troll critic Armond White, so it hardly even counts.
“Parasite” has received so much praise and has been discussed to such a degree I feel as if I do not have much to add to the conversation. My review will not contain any hot takes, nor will it say much which has not already been said in essentially every review which has streamed out since May of last year. I also will not be offering much of a plot summary because “Parasite” is a movie best experienced with as little foreknowledge as possible. Basically, what I am saying is you should believe the hype. This is one of the few cases where a movie really is as good as everyone says it is.
Director Bong Joon-Ho returned to making movies in his native Korean language after several years of making English language films like “Okja” and “Snowpiercer.” Though I enjoyed both of those movies, I think his Korean films—” Memories of Murder” and “The Host”—are far better. It does seem like Bong’s successful English language movies gave him a more worldwide following. Either that or word of mouth has been strong enough to earn “Parasite” more than $100 million and counting at the worldwide box office.
Either way, I can see why it has been such a hit. “Parasite” has something to offer everyone. It is entertaining, riveting, hilarious and sad. It seamlessly combines so many different genres but never feels tonally confused. The plot unravels in a natural and fast-paced way. The stakes are being raised constantly, and the story persistently escalates until it boils over at the climax. Every aspect of filmmaking is done splendidly. The editing is perfect, the performances fantastic and the production design outstanding.
Not only is “Parasite” flawlessly made and a blast to watch, but it also has something to say. The film’s social commentary does not point fingers or present the problems it is tackling as unambiguously black and white and easily solvable. It portrays class and income disparity without simply making the rich characters evil and the poor characters good, as so many works with similar goals seem to do. Visual themes of upstairs and downstairs, uphill and downhill, above ground and below ground are consistently and effectively used throughout the movie to represent these class differences.
It is clear hours went into scouting for the perfect locations to shoot on. In some cases, specifically the two houses where most of the movie was set, the perfect location had to be custom-built. These houses are so meticulously thought out in their design I would be surprised to learn Bong had anything different pictured in his head.
“Parasite” is one of the three movies, along with “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” and “1917,” which seems to have a shot at winning Best Picture at the Oscars next week. Of these, I think “Parasite” is by far the best, and it would be really cool if it won.
Drew Eckhart is a junior history and pre-law major from Edmond, OK. He has loved movies for as long as he can remember but thinks his passion really began when he watched “The Dark Knight” for the first time. His favorite type of movie blends comedy and drama seamlessly, and he loves great action films. His favorite movie is “The Graduate.”