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Parasite Movie Review: Does It Deserve All The Acclaim?

Parasite(Korean)

Directed  by Bong  Joon-Ho

Rating: *** ½(3 and a half stars)

With  a wealth of Oscar nominations and other prominent awards, normally denied to third-world  films in the West,  to its  credit, Korean  director Bong Joon-Ho’s  remarkable  film comes  to  India with  no doubts  about its  calibre.

Indeed  Parasite is  unlike  anything  we’ve seen  from Korean-Chinese filmmakers. Its  a masterclass  in portraying class differences, with the ‘upstairs-downststairs’ notion  from DowntonAbbey  carried  to  ludicrous heights of  dark satire by  a script that  knows  the socio-economic  divide  of Korea’s sharply-segregated  population inside-out.

Director Bong Joon-Ho plunges us  into a kind of class war where the artillery is  so intangible  we often  feel we are looking at a conflict where the casualties are  not quantifiable.The  director’s main weapon attacking an unreasonably  askew class system, is satire. He peels through the pretenses , only to find more of  the same.He diesn’t judge the  hypocrisy. But mourns for it.

Parasite  is all about pretence and masquerade. The parallel incompatible  lives of  the poor Kim family and the wealthy  Park family,   come together in  ways that are wackily improper. One by one every  member of  the poor Kim family insinuates  itself into  the wealthy Park family with the express purpose  of  dipping their  rough tired hands  into the  rich family’s wealth.

 The  easy breezy  manner in which the  father mother sister and brother  of  the Kim family make themselves at home in  the  Park family is not credible,let alone convincing. The plot’s efficacy is reliant  on   the  quotient of  naivete that the rich Park family  shows. While the father of the house  is fidgety and guilt-ridden  the  mother is a wide-eyed clueless breathless specimen of  an over-privileged community.

It’s is easy to see them entrapped by the  gold-digging family from  downtown and soon the Kim family is seen wallowing in the wealth and  luxury of the adopted home.

This is where  Bong Joon Ho chooses to darken the narrative to a pitch-black shade. Ensconced in  the basement   of  the Park mansion is a bankrupt old man,the husband of the wealthy family’s housekeeper, who has gone underground to escape creditors.

The  entire landscape of this  engaging but bleak  and  depressing social comedy is coloured by shades  of  distress and disharmony. The ending is so  violent and macabre , I couldn’t see  it coming. But when  it does come, I could see the director enjoying our shock at  the  orgy of  raw violence that erupts  on the manicured lawns  of  the Park family.

Parasite is  eventually an aggravated parable on  the unequal  distribution of wealth and  how  those  found on  the  wrong side of  the poverty  line  will find ways, often  incredibly violent,  to usurp the  over-privileged. While this disturbing idea  as a cinematic theme is rendered wonderfully workable I was not fully convinced  by how easily the wealthy Park family got taken in.  Or how little effort it took for the entire underprivileged  Kim family to insinuate itself into the wealthy  home.

 Much  like this  unexpected thirdworld  Korean drama insinuating itself into the mainstream  of  the posh   Oscars.

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