Parasite (2019)

Parasite is an expertly crafted movie. It is made with such precision and such a clear vision that it would be impossible to deny its skill and quality. It shifts genres constantly and the shifts work and feel genuine. However the film left me pretty cold and disinterested.

The film follows the impoverished Kim family as the son, Ki-woo, gets a job as a tutor to a wealthy family. The Kim family then worms their way into the wealthy family’s employ. The father becomes the chauffeur. The mother becomes the housekeeper. The sister becomes the tutor and counselor for the young rambunctious son. Watching the family con their way into these positions makes for a riveting first half of the movie. It’s like watching a heist film. It clips along with a narrative momentum that keeps the film engaging and enjoyable. However things go wrong as they must and the movie transforms into a horror film, then a Hitchcockian suspense tale, then a dark Greek tragedy. The film gets steadily more grotesque and violent in the second half. This will turn many people off.

The movie is all about class warfare and the resentments felt by the poor underclass toward the wealthy upper class. This is an interesting theme, but the film just ends up feeling cynical and full of disdain. The poor hate the rich, yet they subject themselves to their wishes. They seethe against their arrogance and lap up their scraps. It turns this poor family into something more like animals than real people toward the end. Maybe that’s the point he’s trying to get across, but because of the tragic nature of the films ending that animalistic quality feels like an inevitability. There isn’t hope in this film. It offers no hope of advancement or positivity. It even taunts the audience with a version of a happy ending before snatching it away. This is a cynical movie. It is a mean spirited movie at times.

That cynicism is displayed with some of the best cinematography of the year. It is beautifully lit and the shot choices are perfect in every moment. The editing is also top notch. This film is expertly constructed. It is absolutely a gorgeously made piece of cinema. There is a central montage in the film that works the story into a fever pitch. It is full of exhilarating narrative that builds to the Kim family’s successful infiltration of the rich family. The montage is brilliant and it is the popular centerpiece of the film. It is deserving of the praise it has received.

However, for me it’s not a movie I want to watch again. It’s not a movie that speaks to me. I don’t need a happy ending or a positive moral of the story. I just need a point. If I’m going to take a bath in cynicism I need a reason for doing so. This film shows a dark and unpleasant world and then just says that’s how it is. It is an indictment of capitalism, but it doesn’t offer anything better. It doesn’t show any alternatives. It just says the poor are oppressed and can never rise out of that oppression. I need more than that.

I admire the craft and skill that made this film. I’m turned off by the story that craft was put to. It’s not my cup of tea, but man is it a well made cup of tea. – B

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