I need to admit something – I didn’t catch Parasite before watching the Oscars live (yes, almost every single year for the past 11 years, I don’t go to sleep, so I can watch the ceremony live, yes, I’m that weird, yes since I live in Scotland, that means it’s from 2 AM to roughly 6 AM) but I’ve heard a fair bit about this movie, so (as almost everybody) I was expecting for this movie to win something. What I didn’t expect is what followed…
Let me just write this right now – after the historical night at the Oscars, I’ve seen it (twice now) and even with those high expectations, I was still blown away. Parasite is is almost a miracle of a movie. What I mean by that is – everything was kind of stacked up against it.
It’s a foreign language movie, so reading is required (which for me is not a chore, as that’s how I learned English, reading plenty of movie/TV show subtitles, plus I love foreign movies) so that will immediately annoy/deter some people. It’s also a movie about social issues, so it’d easy to fall into a trap of being “too preachy” or “not preachy enough”, it doesn’t have a clear genre (I mean seriously, what is it? Is it drama? Is it thriller? Is it a comedy? Is it all of the above, a bit?) and yet, somehow, everything blended together exquisitely under precise direction of Bong Joon Ho, who’s made history, as his movie was the first film EVER to win Oscars for both Best Foreign Movie AND Best Movie, that’s something I’m not quite sure whether anybody can pull off again (but I hope they do).
And he deserved it so much. Parasite is such a clever, nail biting movie, where it honestly doesn’t matter how many movies you’ve seen prior, whether you’re a movie buff, or you see 5 movies/year, you don’t know what happens next. I think that’s one of the main reasons why Parasite was celebrated that much. To make a movie, where there is a clear narrative story, where the structure is given, and yet you, as a viewer, can’t predict pretty much anything that’s coming, but for what’s coming to make sense afterwards… That’s a pure brilliance.
Beware, the SPOILERS are coming!
The other reason I believe Parasite scored largely with audiences and critics was the social commentary, where we follow a family of… well frankly, the lowest of the low, as Ewan McGregor’s character from Trainspotting (1996) would’ve described them. They hunt for a Wi-Fi from restaurant next door, barely making some money, scrapping from day to day, until their son gets the chance to tutor a daughter from a rich family. That’s where the movie seems kind of a like a comedy, where one by one, they find a way to replace all the “servants” in the rich family and employ themselves. And suddenly, they are living well, not just surviving. And they would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for those meddling… former housekeepers…?
I don’t want to spoil too much, but what happens in the second half of this movie, I’ve not anticipated. That’s where the movie shifts to drama and at the end even bit of a thriller territory. I need to talk about two characters that I feel like deserve the most recognition (even though all actors are amazing) – Kang-ho Song (the “poor” dad) and So-dam Park (his “poor” daughter). Why these two?
The poor dad is the heart of this movie, where he’s trying so hard to belong to this rich world, he wishes nothing else but for his children to belong there too, but no matter what he does, he doesn’t belong. As the “rich dad” says to his wife at one point: “I like him. He always seems he’s about to cross the line, but he never does” – that to me establishes perfectly his character – he’s trapped in between these two worlds, where he is balancing on the edge of both, wanting to belong to the “richer” one, but something always pulls him back, maybe “the smell”. That scene, where the “rich dad” is talking to his wife about his “poor smell”, while the “poor” family is hidden in the same room, is truly heartbreaking, and you can tell how the rage is only bubbling up inside of him from that point.
The poor daughter for me is the soul of this movie, as she’s really smart, confident and she doesn’t let herself be stopped by anything, if she’s in doubt, she will google it and fake her way around it. Her character to me only highlights the gap between those two families, where one can’t help but to wonder, what would she be like if she were born in the “rich” family? Her options would be pretty much limitless, and yet, she didn’t let the fact of being born “poor” stop her and managed to do (or fake) so many things. Not going lie, I was rooting for her the entire movie, and what happens to her character at the end (again, don’t want to spoil this too much) just underlines how unfair life can be.
The another thing about this movie is, even after finishing it, you can have hours long discussion with your friends about one thing – who actually WAS the Parasite in this movie? Without going too much into anything, you could make an argument for several people in this movie, really easily. That’s yet another layer of brilliance that amazes me about this movie – you think you’ve found everything about it, then you re-watch it and find yet another layer that you can peel off and “examine”.
I do hope that this movie broke barriers, where it was needed, so this (non-English film winning the Best Picture award) won’t be just a single occurrence, but will inspire filmmakers from all over the world, and sends them a clear message – it doesn’t matter where you’re from, only thing that matters is the movie you’ve made and how good it is. I really hope we will see more of different movies/filmmakers from foreign countries put into a spotlight on Hollywood’s biggest night.
That’s all for this one? Did you see Parasite yet? What did you think? Let me know!
Until next time,