I recently watched the Korean movie Parasite (2019) directed by Bong Joon Ho. I was incredibly surprised a Korean movie had won the Oscar for best movie but after seeing it, I know it’s well deserved. The premise of the movie definitely isn’t unique when you look at other series, movies, and books coming from Korea. The divide between the rich and the poor is widely used to create conflict. So what makes this one different?
This trailer does a very good job at introducing the main characters and the premise. Maybe a little hint about the conflict between the two families. Of how the poor try to do their best to earn money. It’s interesting, but nothing I hadn’t seen before. Using the poor as con men is a trope I see in Korean dramatic expressions a lot. This was basically what I knew going into watching the film. And a tiny tidbit: the title didn’t necessarily refer to the poor people.
After having seen the film, I appreciated the trailer even more. The Hollywood trailers mostly focus on the best parts of the movie while this one shows only the most mundane parts, with only two shots that spice things up. And both didn’t say anything about what was going to happen.
Poor VS Rich
We have two families: one rich, one poor. The son of the poor family is hired as a tutor and subsequently helps his other family members get jobs there as well. The rich family doesn’t suspect anything and is actually glad by all the wonderful recommendations. You see glimpses of both families, how they live, what they think of the others lifestyle, and how they interact with each other. It’s a perfect commentary on what’s going on.
The mother of the poor family has a wonderful insight about the mother of the rich family. “She’s nice because she’s rich” meaning she has the freedom to be nice. Later, the rich couple will talk about the specific smell of people who use subways. That’s where the conflict is. It’s clear that the two families don’t like each other much, but in this situation they need each other. When the house keeper is absent, the rich mother fails to even do the dishes. The rich father relies on the chauffeur to get around. The poor family is just doing what they can to make money, earn enough to eat a meal every day. They’re codependent. So who’s the parasite?
Half a story
This is only part of the story and a commentary on society as a whole. Besides all of this, is another story, one I will not spoil. It’s a story that will make you think, even long after the credits rolled. To be able to tell these two stories so clearly in one movie takes skill. I don’t watch enough Korean movies but I’m always in aw at the high level of quality that comes out of a relatively small country. The whole cast and crew did an incredible job and I highly recommend you watch. This second story will be revealed half way through the movie. You’ll know when you get there. It’s a turning point, not necessarily a twist. After this, there’s no going back. No more reveals, just raw truth.
Be prepared to have your mind blown.