Directed by Bong Joon Ho. Starring Song kang-ho, Choi Woo-shik, Cho Yeo-Jeong.

Thriller, Korea, 15. 132 mins.


Released in the U.K. 7th February 2020 by Studiocanal.


Parasite finally arrives in the U.K. on a steadily rising wave of hype since winning the Palme D’or last May. Nearly as impressive as the film itself is the fact that the films secrets and surprises have not been spoiled for us on this island where for some reason we have found ourselves at the very back of the release queue. To keep this commendable trend going I will avoid spoilers here, only going into the basic set-up of the plot.


Directing from his own screenplay, Bong Joon Ho adds to his near faultless body of work with this insidious tale of the divide between the rich and the poor that neatly compliments his own SNOWPIERCER. Where that tale took the term of class warfare literally, PARASITE takes a more subtle route telling the tale of the unemployed and down on their luck Kim family and the affluent Park family. While the Kims scramble around their near subterranean home looking for free wi-fi, their youngest son, Ki-woo, seizes the opportunity to cover for his friend as a tutor for the Parks young daughter in their own spacious, luxurious, self designed home. The fact that he is completely unqualified fails to deter him and only emboldens him to encourage the rest of his clan to seek employment with them by any means necessary.


To say anymore would spoil the experience of a film that takes great pleasure in enticing and fooling its audience without the need to resort to outrageous or hokey twists. The story unfolds faultlessly and complicity draws the viewer onside without making a heavy handed point about the divides between the lower and upper classes in Korean society. Joon Ho displays his mastery of tone here yet again. In a career that has seen him tackle dystopian fiction, monster movies and crime procedurals he displays his genre hopping skills not only in the same film but manages to do so within the space of a single scene. It is this skill that keeps the audience entertained to such a high degree that they may not even notice the subtle trickery that Joon Ho employs over the course of this self contained narrative, giving us a completely different film at the end from the one we started watching two hours before.


The pitch black streak of humour that runs through Joon Ho’s previous films is present and correct here. Aided by a sterling cast with his frequent collaborator Song Kang-ho playing the patriarch of the Kim family, the rest of the ensemble step up with a slew of perfectly judged performances that match the shifting nature of the films storyline.


The recent news of Adam Mckay producing a six hour companion series for HBO set around events and circumstances from the original film is made all the sweeter by the fact that Joon-Ho himself, in a writing capacity at least, will be returning to examine them. It is a prospect made more exciting when you have experienced this supremely entertaining film that pulls no punches and lands them all on target with an ending that will linger with you after its final fade to black before the end credits.


One more thing; when watching the film in the cinema, try and avert your eyes during the certificate info before the film starts so as to avoid further spoilers of visual elements. There is nothing major but the less you know about Parasite the more you will get out of it, and it really is a lot.


Iain MacLeod.


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