Parasite reminds me of the dark flavours within Twizzlers black licorice, a candy with attitude and cheekiness that taunts your taste buds and has you craving for more and not ever getting enough.
This film noir social satire will have you disbelieving and laughing, squirming and admiring this wonderful tongue-in-cheek story coming out of South Korea. It is a big picture and has all the markings of a big Hollywood film.
Directed and written by Bong Joon Ho, Parasite is the story of two families coming from polar opposites in the class system: the very poor struggling family and the very rich successful family displaying wealth and privilege.
Joon Ho has brought these two families together through a series of quirky, humorous and smart plot development twists. Their interactions cross many social boundaries and norms, and the humour comes out in how the characters adapt to the situations they find themselves in.
The screenplay is strong and fast-paced; there is little wasted time getting from one point to another. Even though this is a story about going from rags to riches and back to rags and riches, it is the vehicle that transports the viewer through the unbelievable to the reality of the situation.
We feel sadness for the struggling family and at the same time love going on this once-in-a-lifetime ride with them. Their creativity in solving one dilemma after another keeps us sitting on the edge of our seats wondering what comes next. However, what does come next will shock you, amaze you and amuse you with the director’s creativity. Just when you think you know what is going to happen, the director throws a “black twizzler” at you that is shocking and exciting.
Cinematography and the fluid camera movements are rich in textures and tones. The film is fast-paced while at the same time allowing us the time to study and become absorbed in the complexity of the characters and their emotions.
Parasite reminds me of the acclaimed Japanese film Shoplifters (2018) for its look at Asian lifestyles and the beauty beholden to their culture. Both Parasite and Shoplifters won the coveted Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or, 2019 and 2018 respectively. Parasite also won the Golden Globe Award for best foreign language film and is almost a shoe-in to take the Oscar for best foreign language film.
I loved this film and had to go back to the theatre the day after and see it a second time. I believe it is one of the best films of 2019. For these reasons, I give Parasite five out of five tugboats.
Parasite is playing during the Powell River Film Festival (February 7 to 16) at 7 pm on Saturday, February 8, at the Patricia Theatre. Run time is 131 minutes.
Film festival tickets are on sale now at prfilmfestival.com.
Stephen J. Miller is a producer and creative writer in feature films and television, and past owner of repertoire movie theatres.