If life gave you lemons, would you be able to make lemonade out of it? Do you have a plan to get where you want to be? That is the premise of hilariously-dark Parasite, by Korean director Bong Joon-ho: a family that will play all their cards to lift themselves up from their low-life in a big Korean city. A must-watch, it is pretty clear why this movie won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019: a good plot that will keep you wondering “how will they get out of this one?”
This movie will guide you through an adventure that starts out of desperation and is based on the maxim “fake it till you make it.” The Kim family, living in an infested basement apartment, sees the light out of their hole when the son, Ki-woo is offered a gig tutoring the daughter of a wealthy family. To get jobs for the rest of his family, Ki-woo comes up with a plan: he creates stories that will have his sister, father, and mother hired, one by one. How? Well, by making the Park family believe they are hiring professionals who are not related to one another. The plan works out, even if they have to get the family driver and the housekeeper fired.
Naturally you will come to the conclusion that the Kim family is the ‘parasite’ to which the title alludes. But once you have this realization, the movie will throw a curveball at you. There is a funny-yet-dark twist when the owners of the house go away for the weekend to celebrate their son’s birthday: the Kim family decides to enjoy the mansion because that was their life now, not that basement apartment anymore. All goes well until the former housekeeper shows up to their front door saying she needed to get something she left in the basement of the mansion. And then, be ready for a revelation that will take the story to a dark place, quite literally. But now you have to go watch the movie to find out what I am talking about.
You will be entertained by the plot, and you might also enjoy the way the movie plays with your sensations. Touching a peach, having your feet wet, the way people smell, sunbathing on the lawn, Parasite will make you feel all of these and more, even worse sometimes. You will also want to pay special attention to the character of the sister, Ki-jeong, played by Park So-dam. What would you do if your apartment were flooded and the toilet started gushing out brown water? Her character’s reaction, as unexpected as it might seem, couldn’t be any more appropriate for her situation in the movie.
All in all, Parasite is a movie you want to watch. It is a reflection on how current society isn’t structured to support everyone, and the degree to which people will jeopardize their dignity in order to get out of their (sometimes literal, sometimes metaphorical) holes. Desperate times call for desperate measures, even if they have to come up with an immoral plan. But in the end, to quote the father of the Kim family, “if you make a plan, life never works out that way.”