Movie review: Parasite (Gisaengchung)

Writer/Director Bong Joon Ho

ParasiteI have no idea how to review the movie Parasite (Gisaengchung). Except this. This movie is LOL funny at some points, utterly horrific at others.

Bong Joon Ho is a South Korean writer/director. The first people we meet are the Kim family, parents, college-aged son and a daughter a bit older. They live in dire poverty, all but jobless, dealing with life’s indignities.

Then by chance, the young man Kim Ki-woo gets a fill-in gig as a tutor for the daughter of the Park family. These are well-off, aspirational people, especially the father. Once Kim Ki-woo gets his foot in the door, he wonders if he can get gigs for the rest of his family.

This is a tricky task, because there are people already in a couple of these positions. But the Kims are creative and the Parks are fairly oblivious. And the first part of the movie ends. We discover, though that it’s not only the Kim family in the parasite role. Also, you can’t always get rid of the stench of poverty.

I suppose I should mention that the movie is in Korean, with subtitles. Well, except for those moment the Park mother tries out her minimal English.

What the writer said

Lessee, what did Ken Levine have to say? “So far PARASITE is my pick for movie of the year

“Writer/Director Bong Joon Ho has achieved the near impossible – making a movie so engrossing that no one in the theater had to tell someone to turn off their phone. Now, THAT’S filmmaking.” Well, actually there was that one woman in my row…

“Happily, PARASITE doesn’t fall into any one genre. It cleverly and stylishly combines a few, bends a few, and creates a few into one compelling cohesive film. I was knocked out by the storytelling. I guarantee you won’t be able to predict what happens next. You’ll laugh, you’ll shriek – and isn’t that what entertainment’s all about?”

I went to this in early January 2020, without my wife or child, and it’s probably just as well. Naturally, I went to the Spectrum Theatre in Albany.