Parasite (2019)

Brilliant tale of class and the myth of social mobility. A very firm handle on tone (the conman comedy of the first half, the meatier dramedy of the second), so much so that the utter density of the film never feels leaden or overdone. But there is detail everywhere, so many parallels and suggests fractally packed in.

Throwaway Native American references mapping onto the layered ‘occupations’ of a house. A rock representing the dream of material wealth literally used in the giving of brain damage to someone who consequently begins to believe in social mobility. The completely different experiences of rain, the natural world, to families of different classes (material devastation for one, ‘cleansing of pollution’) for another. Roleplaying as another class tied to sexual stimulation. Scurrying around under tables and out of torchlight like cockroaches.

The production design is so illustrative to this end, and the filming gives a very clear geographic sense of everything, which becomes vital in the more action-packed sequences of the film. Every aspect of the film works with such cohesion to sell the class drama of it all – except, of course, smell, which a film can’t offer. But smell is the key to the film’s climax, the way it illustrates class division. If it was referenced in dialogue it may have felt trite, but as is, the double meaning of the title – perhaps to be taken initially as meaning the lower-class family that cleverly inserts itself into an upper-class one, but surely ultimately referencing a family so parasitic they can’t even cook, clean, parent, take care of themselves at all, exploiting the labour of others to survive – speaks to the ultimate construct of the film. Very clever, and very angry, but assured and confident enough to never be on-the-nose. Four bottles of soju, and a stink bug.

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