Movie Review: “Parasite”
The Kims are a poor family in South Korea. Kim Ki-taek (Kang-ho Song) and his wife Kim Chung-sook (Hye-jin Jang) live in a small, low-income apartment with their son and daughter. The family takes whatever work they can get, but they have not had great luck recently. That all changes when their son’s friend comes by offering their son a job.
Their son, Kim Ki-woo (Woo-sik Choi), will be tutoring a very wealthy family’s daughter with her English lessons. He has taken many exams to get into university himself, so he should have no problem teaching the young girl. However, when he gets to the enormous, luxurious house, Kim Ki-woo sees an opportunity to get each of his family members a job within the house. The first is his sister, Kim Ki-jung (So-dam Park), who he gets an interview for a job as the wealthy family’s son’s art teacher. Their plan is going well so far, but they cannot let the wealthy family know that they are all related, and that they plan to take advantage of the wealthy family. However, as things begin to spiral out of control, their secret may prove to be impossible to keep.
The Pros & Cons
The Kims (+6pts)
Convenient & Unnecessary Secret (-5pts)
The Smell (-2pts)
The Climax (+5pts)
The Ending (-2pts)
Pro: The Kims (+6pts)
I have seen a lot of movies where the main characters have had good chemistry, but do not let that take away from me saying that the Kims had strong chemistry with one another. I completely bought them as a family who were struggling financially, but who were committed to working together to make their lives better. I bought them each in their respective roles, but I more importantly bought them as a family and as a team. This made the premise really easy to buy.
On top of that, the actors in these roles had to convincingly play this movie’s varying tone. The movie was at times funny, suspenseful, and mysterious, while sometimes being all three simultaneously. We also needed to buy that these characters were willing to do truly twisted and selfish things in order to help their family. These actors needed to play their parts in a way that worked on all of these levels, and I thought they did that successfully.
Con: Convenient & Unnecessary Secret (-5pts)
I found it oddly convenient that there just so happened to be four main protagonists, and four potential jobs within the rich household. I also thought it was oddly convenient, that each family member was able to excel at the job that they were pretending to be qualified for. Kim Ki-woo had never tutored anyone before, but was able to fill that role very easily. Kim Ki-jung and Kim Ki-taek learned everything they needed to learn about their jobs way too quickly. The only one that seemed to fit into their role naturally was Kim Chung-sook, but she hardly got any focus. I just had a hard time believing that the other three family members—who were not at all qualified for their jobs—had such an easy time filling their roles.
Then there was the unnecessary stipulation that the Kims felt the need to hide the fact that they were a family. Maybe I missed something, but I do not understand why they could not have pretended to be qualified for their jobs, but been honest about the fact that they were a family. This would have eliminated a lot of the risk that the protagonists were facing. The whole plot of this movie hinged on trying to keep this secret, but I did not understand why they needed to keep it in the first place. This made me feel like the main characters unnecessarily put them in a really difficult situation, one that easily could have been avoided if they had just been honest about being a family from the beginning.
Pro: Unpredictable (+8pts)
The best thing going for this movie—by far—was its unpredictable plot. The movie started with showing the life of poverty that the Kims live, so you will want to see them get out of it. Then it showed their mission to infiltrate the wealthy family‘s house, and this made for a pretty unpredictable story. The suspense tgat came with not wanting them to get caught was captivating, but their mission naturally kept changing the game.
There was the suspense that came with Kim Ki-woo trying to get his position as the English tutor. However, as soon as he got in, the story gave no time for the audience to react. It moved right on to trying to get the next family member in the house. This pattern then continued. With each new family member being added to the equation, more suspense was added to the story as there was then a new family member that could be caught. Then when you think you have gotten used to the pattern, the story takes you in a completely different direction that flips the Kims’ entire plan on its head, while raising the stakes and leaving you having no idea what could come next. The premise was pretty simple—initially—but the plot ends up going in a wildly suspenseful and unpredictable direction, which kept me captivated from start to finish.
Con: The Smell (-2pts)
This was a part of the story that was a little too on the nose—pun very much intended. The whole movie was about the difference in class between these two families, and just in case the movie had previously been too subtle, the filmmakers then smack you over the head with it with the smell. This just felt like it came out of nowhere, as it previously had not been setup, and it felt incredibly forced and unrealistic—especially during the climax of the movie. I liked the class inequality that was depicted in this movie, but the whole storyline regarding the smell was ridiculous.
Pro: The Climax (+5pts)
I already said that this entire plot was unpredictable, so it should come as no surprise that the climax was unpredictable as well. I really do not want to give any of it away, but know that the climax was full of moments that I was absolutely not expecting. It was intense, it was shocking, and it had me on the edge of my seat. The climax of this movie was the culmination of the entire unpredictable plot that led up to it. It brought a jaw-dropping conclusion to a plot that already had plenty of surprises.
Con: The Ending (-2pts)
I liked the plot of this movie right up until the end of the climax. I just felt like the scenes that followed—the ending of the movie—missed their mark. There was some intended comedy that I did not think landed, there was a character who had goals that I think were supposed to be more impactful than they were, and there was a “surprise” twist ending that was actually the most predictable part of the movie. The plot of this movie was pretty strong from the beginning of the movie through the climax, but the ending felt like a dud. The story was great otherwise, but the filmmakers seemed to struggle with ending this story in a way that was as impactful as the rest of the story had been.
Grade: B+ (85pts)
I saw that this movie won the Oscar for best picture, so I was looking forward to checking it out. While I liked the movie, I do not think it lived up to my expectations. The ending felt like it missed its mark, and the whole smell thing was extremely on the nose, and felt unrealistic and forced into the story. Then there was the fact that each protagonist happened to have a potential job in the home, and happened to be oddly good at their jobs despite their lack of experience or qualifications.
Fortunately, these issues were easy to get past—except for the end since, you know, it was the end. The main cast were great in their respective roles and had great chemistry, which made them believable as a family. You will want to root for this family, despite the terrible things that they did to others, and that is a testament to the chemistry between the family members. Most importantly, this movie was incredibly unpredictable, intense, suspenseful, and even funny at times. This all led up to a jaw-dropping climax that will have you on the edge of your seat. Was this my favorite movie of from 2019? Far from it, but it was still pretty good.