Karla Pacheco Staff Writer
“Once you overcome the 1-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” That is what director, Bong Joon-ho, said when he addressed the audience at the Golden Globes. “Parasite” started gaining notoriety and nominations at an unforeseen rate and for good measure. It is very inspiring to see an international film acquire so many accolades and hopefully pave the way for more to come. As of Sunday Feb. 9, it has officially been declared by the academy to be the best picture, as well as having taken home 4 out of 5 possible Oscars. It is a film that refuses to be contained within anybody’s realm of expectations. Genre? Never heard of it. Currently categorized as a drama/comedy/thriller, it is hard to say which of these terms, if any, can even hope to define the essence of the story in the best way possible. What it truly is, however, is a movie that keeps you hooked and on the edge of your seat the entire time.
From the start, for non-Korean speaking audiences, the subtitles play their part in getting one to pay and keep paying attention. From that moment forward, the pacing of the movie makes sure there is not one second to look away. The beginning introduces you to the Kim family, a mother, father, son, and daughter; they very clearly do not come from riches. The parents are seemingly having trouble securing a job, the kids are not in college. The family as a whole lives in a semi-basement that they are clearly ashamed of, as they react in shock when the son’s, Ki-woo, better-off friend, Min-hyuk, comes by to visit unannounced. He does however, bring about a bit of good fortune in the form of a scholar’s rock which supposedly brings wealth into the household. Additionally, Min-hyuk also brings a job offer, telling Ki-woo that he would like him to replace him as an English tutor for the very rich Park family’s daughter. In order to do so, Ki-woo has to pose as a college student, so his sister, Ki-jeong, Photoshops a diploma for him. From here, the deception and advantageous side of the underdogs begins to show. They begin scheming and shortly, the family secretly replaces all of the working positions of the Park household. No spoilers, or as few as possible, but once it is revealed that the Kim family is the parasite, it is impossible to look away. This is especially true a few plot twists later when juxtaposed with a different party in a similar situation that exhibited a symbiotic relationship with the hosts that were the Park family.
Symbolism is major and not something at all shied away from in “Parasite.” There is an emphasis on not crossing the line. Any instances of a line being crossed is shown subtly, yet prominently. Through the corner of the glass walls the housekeeper leans over to wake up Mrs. Park as she lays across a table in the yard. Mr. Kim pries into Mr. Park’s personal life while driving and keeps looking back at him, prompting Mr. Park to tell Mr. Kim to keep his eyes on the road after he swerves while asking a serious question. Going from the semi-basement to the magnificent Park house there are literal stairs leading up. The light shifts from grungy, dim, dull, cool colors to bright, vibrant, clean greens and golds. Even the camera angles show the power dynamic shifting, for example, a shift in position to show Ki-woo at the same level as Mrs. Park once he takes the job and finesses one for his sister. In a playful conversation, Mrs. Kim compares Mr. Kim to a cockroach running away from the light, which we later see is foreshadowing, as he vanishes from an unfavorable situation. We also see the descent of the Kim family as they leave the house together after a nightmare of a night gone wrong, going back into the darkness, going back down in status and back to reality. In the style of Icarus, they metaphorically flew too close to the sun, and crashed down into their flooded semi-basement home.
Overall, “Parasite” is a beautifully crafted film. Everything means something, making it the perfect film to watch and re-watch. At the very least, a second watch-through is very much recommended. The aesthetics, the dialogue, the cinematography, no aspect of this film can go unappreciated. In an era of sequels and reboots, it is refreshing to see a movie so unlike any other get so much recognition.