Saturday, November 2, 2019

Movie with Abe: Parasite

Directed by Bong Joon-Ho
Released October 11, 2019

The definition of a crime can be complicated, since judicial systems usually assess guilt and culpability based on specifics that might delineate subtle differences between applicable laws. Deception, on the other hand, is something that can be more broadly applied, since lying to someone in order to achieve an aim is likely unethical even if it’s not prosecutable by law. Whether bending the truth is necessary or defensible can be murky, and the achievement of certain results through the manipulation of events or express dishonesty is often up for interpretation.

Ki-woo (Woo-sik Choi) lives with his family in a semi-basement apartment, stealing wi-fi from their neighbors after their phone service has been cut off. When a friend suggests he embellish his resume to pose as a college student, he succeeds in a getting a plum job as an English tutor for the daughter of a housewife, Yeon-kyo (Yeo-jeong Jo), and her wealthy husband Dong-ik (Sun-kyun Lee). He immediately brings in his sister Ki-jung (So-dam Park) as an alleged art therapist, and the two work together to oust the family driver and housekeeper so that their parents Ki-taek (Kang-ho Song) and Chung-sook (Hye-jin Jang) can take over those roles. Soon, the entire family is working together, dreaming about turning this unimaginable home into their own, unaware of hidden secrets that threaten the stability of their carefully-orchestrated illusion.

Joon-Ho’s latest film has rightfully been earning incredible awards buzz, an impressive feat given that South Korea has never earned a Best Foreign Film Oscar nomination and that Joon-Ho’s previous critically-praised work like “The Host,” “Mother,” and “Snowpiercer” has never really translated to mainstream acclaim. Yet there’s something absolutely universal about this film, which examines class disparity and what it means to live comfortable in a fascinating way. Best of all, the film is gripping and entirely captivating in its own right, not serving merely as allegory or symbolic but extraordinarily effective, both comically and dramatically, as a viewing experience due to the strength of its story and its performers.

None of the actors in this film should be familiar to American audiences, but it’s more than likely that a few of them will end up with notable international roles following their participation here. All are excellent, but the particular standout is Yeo-jeong Jo as the talkative mother who is described as simple, always asking plenty of questions yet gullibly accepting whatever answer is fed to her first. It’s a marvelous performance surrounded by a superb ensemble, all contributing to a resounding and haunting story that proves to be an astonishing and revelatory experience worthy of intensive analysis.


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