Chances are you've heard of a film called Parasite. If you haven't, here's what you need to know. It's a movie out of South Korea that has received an enormous amount of critical acclaim, maintaining a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and culminating in the Palme d'Or award at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. Social media reactions have been equally positive, with many people calling it one of the best movies of the year. So why was this movie so highly rated? I was intrigued by the positive reviews so I decided to watch it for myself. Was it really that good? It was definitely a good movie, but the best of the year? Not in my opinion.
Without spoiling too much, the movie focuses on the vast social gap between the rich and the poor. The story revolves around a poor family of four who can only afford to live in a tiny sub-basement below street level. The son in the family is fortunate enough to have a friend who tutors the daughter of a very successful and rich business tycoon. When the friend needs to leave to further his studies, he offers to introduce the son to the wealthy family as his replacement. Problem is, the son comes from a poor family and lacks a formal college education. No way a wealthy family would even let him on their property. Luckily for him, his sister is a master at Photoshop so she conjures up some fake certificates, he puts on a convincing performance when he meets the wealthy tycoon’s wife, and he gets the job. Over time his sister and both his parents end up conning the wealthy family into giving them all jobs, and life’s good. Up until this point, it seems like a family heist movie, a con-job film, until a surprise in the tycoon’s house causes all sorts of chaos, threatening to unravel the family’s successful con.
I didn’t know what to expect when I entered the cinema. I had already watched the trailer, but it does a good job of hiding the plot twist which completely took me by surprise when I watched the movie. For the most part, the film was quite enjoyable, though I did find some issues with how extreme some aspects of the plot unfolded. The poor family for instance, were so natural and professional when it came to conning the wealthy family that Danny Ocean (Ocean’s 11) would’ve been impressed. It was kind of hard for me to accept how smoothly the con went, and some of the consequences of the plot twist were also rather extreme, which left me feeling like it didn’t make much sense.
A friend of mine told me though that the film is a social commentary on how poverty and hardships in life can lead to desperation, and in desperate times people do desperate things. It was also a representation of how big the gulf is between the rich and the poor, and how even something as simple as body odour can trigger intense reactions from people of different social circles. Or how people with a lot of money are expected to be "nice people" since they have an easy life with no hardships. That point of view does make sense, and it also probably explains why this film received such rave reviews, but I still don’t feel like it was one of the best films I’ve watched. When it comes to foreign language films, I enjoyed Friend Zone just a little more.
I’d still recommend Parasite though. It’s still a good movie, but I just wasn’t able to appreciate it as much as the critics.