Delightfully dark social satire 'Parasite' tells tale of two classes

Brad Keefe

We are in the midst of the most wonderful time of the year at the movies, the stretch where some of the year’s most acclaimed films are released to get that sweet, sweet Oscar attention.

And while last week’s (5-star) “Jojo Rabbit” is still fresh, there’s another near-perfect movie you shouldn’t miss in theaters.

Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” has gotten raves since winning the Palme d'Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and I’m here to tell you it’s every bit as good as advertised, maybe better.

A twisty and uproarious thriller, “Parasite” packs a ton of entertainment around some sharp and timely social satire. It’s a tale of two families living in South Korea. The Kim family lives in a cramped sub-basement apartment. What they lack in wealth, they make up for in hustle, but they’re barely scraping by.

When the family’s son gets an opportunity to work tutoring the daughter of the wealthy Park family, it begins a series of events that intertwines the families in the Parks' modernist home.

Bong makes “Parasite” such a wild ride, a long con richly layered in class struggle. The social commentary is hard to miss, but rarely is it this damn entertaining. Here, the wealthy family and the poor one form a symbiotic relationship. Sure, the Kims are scamming the Parks, but they also end up providing the services the upper class takes for granted. Cash moves everything around us, right?

Bong’s biting sense of humor sends up both sides of the equation, and he doesn’t spoon feed the audience. There’s a lot to unpack in “Parasite.”

The film is also wonderfully constructed with perfect pacing and gorgeous camerawork. The Parks' stately home was created just for the movie, and it should win awards for the architecture alone.

Bong has examined the disparity between the haves and have-nots before, notably in “Snowpiercer.” His poor family is conning a rich family into, well, working for them. The dishonesty doesn’t seem malicious until things start to heat up.

The twists of “Parasite” are a real joy, so we won’t spoil those, but this is one to see in theaters before the buzz spills the beans. “Parasite” seems a front-runner for a foreign language Oscar, but if it gets enough eyes on it, expect it in the Best Picture race. It’s easily one of the best films of 2019.

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5 stars out of 5