Movie Review: 'Parasite'

John Thomas

The father of a family of four feels that if you have no plan, things can’t go wrong. The wife wholeheartedly agrees; the young-adult son and daughter have a different perspective. The result of the father’s idea is that they are devastatingly poor and live in a below street level hovel with one filthy window looking up at a congested street.

Occasionally their street view includes a drunken neighbor who urinates on the window. The worst part of their living condition, however, is that they don’t have internet service, at least not since the residents living above changed to password protected internet access.

A family friend appears at their door with a gift that drastically changes their financial situation. The friend has been downsizing a collection of suseok sculptural rocks that are said to have special gifts. He claims the rock he’s brought brings prosperity to the owner and that it does in spades.

Shortly after the gift arrives, the son is asked by a friend to fill in for him, tutoring the daughter of a wealthy family. The friend will be traveling and wants a trusted person to look after the young lady soon bound for college. The son agrees to an interview with her mother and arrives at their palatial home with stacks of forged documents.

The mother is quite charmed by him, impressed with his forged background and immediately engages his services as a tutor. In passing she mentions that her much younger son is quite spirited, interested in art and fascinated by American Indians.

He too is in need of guidance, preferably someone knowledgeable in art. As he is leaving the home, the new tutor pauses by the door, ponders for a second, then suggests he knows someone who might be perfect for the position. Guess who? His sister, who gets cleaned up and appears at the home the next day with piles of fake credentials testifying to her abilities as an artist, phycologist, tutor, companion and anything else that she thinks the mother might find useful.

The household staff of four now has two positions recently filled and two more that might need replacements. Plans are now under way for the two remaining servants to be let go. The poor father still remains content with no plan, but his daughter is not as she slips off her panties while sitting in the back seat of the owner’s chauffeur-driven Mercedes.

The wealthy father had just arrived home from work and had offered his car and driver to take his newest employee home. She accepts and plots. Freeing herself of her panties, which she discretely tucks under the passenger seat, she declines the chauffeur’s subtle advances to go further and asks to be dropped off at a nearby train station.

The poor family is suddenly prospering, just as the suseok rock predicted. The son and daughter are employed, now it’s just a matter of fitting mom and dad into the work force. Through careful and surreptitious planning, they too gain employment in the household of the wealthy family. Finally everyone is happy, that is, until a secret door to the hidden basement labyrinth is discovered and opened. Then all goes awry, especially the best of plans.

Parasite is a winner Palme d’Or, Cannes Film Festival, 2019. It is directed by Joon-ho Bong (South Korea; Credits: Okja, Snowpiercer). This “must see” film runs 132 minutes.


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