Length: 132 minutes / 2.20 hours
If you haven’t discovered South Korean cinema yet, Parasite (2019) is a fantastic introduction for the uninitiated. Director Bong Joon-ho has been hard at work over the last 20 years, helping craft films that are thoughtful and horrifying. Movies like The Host (2006) and Snowpiercer (2013) give a sense of his artistic style. Parasite merely takes his ability to shed light on class conflict and molds it into a masterpiece that’s half heist-comedy, half horror-drama, and all suspense. If it weren’t for the somewhat lackluster ending, I’d give this film the full five stars it deserves.
At the base of Parasite is a conflict between the impoverished and the rich. This theme could be easily applied to any country with a wide income disparity, which is probably why it works so well in the United States as well as in South Korea. To survive in these environments, the poor must do their best to polish their image enough so that the rich will hire them. Sometimes, this requires an elaborate series of prepared and practiced cons to break into financial success. Of course, the threat of being uncovered as charlatans is what drives the comedy and suspense of Parasite.
My only qualm with Parasite is the uncertainty of its ending. There’s a point during the climactic incident where I thought the movie could end, and it would be a perfect kind of ambiguity (mostly because there was a finality to it). Instead, there’s a little bit tacked on that covers the “where are they now?” which—while being an adequate way to show the cycle of dependency continuing—still doesn’t give a wholly satisfying conclusion. Regardless of this, I found Parasite to be a fantastic piece of cinema and one that I believe will stand the test of time like other South Korean films like The Housemaid (1960) and Oldboy (2003) have.
A nearly perfect heist/comedy/horror/drama hybrid that is a testament to South Korean cinema, I give Parasite 4.5 stars out of 5.