Spoiler free review
I have been following Parasite closely ever since it won the Palme d’or at the Cannes Festival in the second quarter of last year. As it got a wider and extended release after its Best Film win, I got hopeful because it meant it would be shown in more cinemas. However, after disappointments of cinema being sold out for parasite’s screening, I finally got to see it today. Much more interesting is the kind of cinema where I saw this beauty. It’s your old skool styled movie house which befits such an original story that’s rarely seen today. In a world of reboots, sequels, adaptations and re-adaptations(Mean Girl style), this has been a wind of new life in the film world. This originality originates from South Korea in what was an improved year for movies which Hollywood should learn from. Not to mention, Parasite could have as well come from Nollywood, if we do not produce things like Lionheart or Chief Daddy (I literally just yawned).
Parasite as we all know took the world by storm this year by going home with the most awards at the Academy awards. It was directed by Bong Joon-ho, known for his poetic cinema offerings, which are mostly critically acclaimed. They include movies like Snowpiercer, The Host and Okja.
Parasite is a dark comedy thriller that shows the contrast in the lives of two families, Park and Kim. The Kims, a family of four, living in the bottom-most class of the society, all devise a way to be a paid working unit in the Park household, who find themselves in the upper echelon of the South Korean society. Through the Kim’s carefully devised comical scheme, they all land various jobs; being an English tutor, an art therapist/tutor, a driver and a housekeeper. However, all but one replaces an existing worker who already held these positions. How long can this deceit last for? What would trigger the chain of events that blows their scam?
The movie runs for over 2 hours. As a viewer, you would barely notice this ‘superhero movie’ like length. This is as a result of the humour, despite being in a foreign language, which the subtitles do a good job of translating. Also, the cast do an amazing job in conveying the non-verbal comedic moments on the large screen. Additionally, the film’s screenplay was well written; this makes time run fast and leaves you asking for more at the end. The film’s story opens a wide range of options to explore and leaves you guessing which route it would take, only to present the audience with twists hard to predict.
With the story set in South Korea, it shows the social class separation and struggle that exists in this society. An example is the Kim family leaving their basement home windows open just to enjoy free fumigation taking place on the street above, constant search for free access to WiFi and experiencing flood in their home, like it is not the first time. On the other hand, the Parks own a home where they enjoy more natural light and space, bigger garden, garage with multiple cars and bicycles and generally a home big enough to accommodate strangers, even bigger than you can imagine.
The description of the lives above is also similar to the way things are in my home country, Nigeria, where the contrast between the rich and the poor is evident and rarely fought against. Often times, they even live in close proximity to one another. I came to a conclusion as to why the poor rarely fight for a better life: this could be because the lower class in the Nigerian society are not yet living in basement homes. They still get to enjoy life on the same surface level of earth with their rich counterparts which makes them lack this consciousness of their true inferior class. In different circumstances like that in South Korea, the additional shame of living beneath those who you serve would trigger the consciousness that they are well below the Haves of the society and as a result, fight for necessary improvement.
This brings me to my point on why this would have been THAT perfect Nigerian movie. Nigerian movie industry, Nollywood, being among the top 3 film producers in the world (in numbers), would make you think that we get a gem in every 20 releases. But no, we are still lacking in the story area. Stories similar to Parasite’s is well grounded in the Nigerian society, especially with the symbiotic relationship between the ‘Haves and Have nots’ which could be explored as a film. However, not as a film whereby it is a comedy of the literate vs illiterates/half-educated, which we have often seen on screen. Finding oneself in the lower class of the society does not mean one has acquired lesser education than the others, it could be due to various other unpleasant reasons. We see that in Parasite as the Kim family all have knowledge of what the internet is and basic technology, the daughter possesses good Photoshop skills which comes in hand during their scheme and the son is even educated enough to be an English tutor which is how they got a foot into the Park’s lives in the first place.
I do not know if I overthink or analyse too deeply, but I found Parasite to be unconvincing at times. Talking about the rate at which the whole ploy to get jobs with the Park family took place. But, it only shows how gullible the wealthy could be sometimes. The most basic of things, due to their wealth gets interpreted into mammoth challenges. They think too much I would say. This attitude will be used against them as the Kim family strengthened their foothold in their new ‘workplace’.
The movie makes a clear characterization of who the host is and who the parasite is. But who is the villain and who is the cause of this wide gap existing in the society that would lead to such chain of events. We do not want to blame the rich because they have done no harm by employing those who need the job. Neither do we want to blame the poor who have only conceived a tactic to climb up the societal ladder. So, who is to blame? I would say the government. The South Korean government has responded well to the movie by vowing to improve the conditions in Korean basement homes. All in all, whether you are from the upper, lower class, or even happen to find yourself in the middle, one thing remains constant: the struggle and it never stops.
Watch Parasite as soon as you can and let us talk about its symbols in the comments section. There I can get into more spoilers. Parasite will also be getting a Hollywood adaptation treatment. It is being developed by HBO as a TV show, which I would have preferred to see on Netflix. Anyway, I do not mind seeing more Parasite, I wonder if it would make sense with American actors. Mal sehen.