Bong Joon-ho’s elegant thriller Parasite is reaching new heights for Korean cinema, sweeping nominations and awards in main categories for all the major awards. The film has already won a Golden Globe for ‘Best Foreign Film’, and received four Academy Awards nominations, announced today, including ‘Best Director’ — making it the first Korean film to be nominated.
Parasite follows Ki-taek, played by Song Kang-ho who returns in his fourth on-screen collaboration with Bong as the unemployed patriarch of the working-class Kim family — all cooped up in a stinking, squalid basement. When they are not stealing the free WiFi from nearby cafes or fighting the local drunkard that keeps urinating near their window, the family fold pizza boxes for a delivery company to make some cash.
But when the son, Ki-woo (Choi Woo-sik), learns of a lucrative job tutoring the daughter of a wealthy family, the Kims get a stroke of fortune. With a fake college diploma created by his smart-alec sister, Ki-jung (Park So-dam), Ki-woo posing as “Kevin” easily charms his way into the lavish Park household.
At the helm of the Park family is the naive mother Yeon-kyo (Cho Yeo-jeong), who is unaware of Ki-woo’s insidious plans and reveals that she needs an art tutor for the younger son — in comes sister Ki-jung as “Jessica”.
One-by-one, Ki-woo manages to smuggle his family into the Park home, all under the guise of tutors, a chauffeur, and a maid. Convinced that they’ve found their meal ticket into the 1%, the Kims indulge themselves in the finery of their new lodgings. Until everything goes wrong.
Parasite is a beautiful and captivating film in every single composition. Everything is carefully thought out and nothing is without purpose. The social commentary is present throughout the film, from the clear contrasts of the open, modish spaces of the Park home against the confined, cluttered room of the Kim basement, to the more subtle nods to the audience from certain characters.
Bong Joon-ho masterly builds the tension, until it’s bursting at the seams, culminating in a chaotic spectacle of greed, materialism, and ambition.
Parasite hits UK cinemas on 7 February.