If there's an argument that's been a part of society since the dawn of time is that of class. From the days of cavemen, the Roman Empire, the Enlightment, and even modern times, philosophers, scholars and storytellers have explored the ideology of the wealthy and poor. It's something that people have wanted to fix to create more equality and people that discuss whether things should be equal at all. It's hard to give my opinion because we have so many viewpoints that's its challenging to paint who exactly is in the wrong. There are good wealthy people and bad poor people and vice versa. This is also something that many movies has dived into.
In fact, one of my favorite movies of the 2000's is the science-fiction thriller, Snowpiercer. It was a creative way to look at corrupted societies and how it unfavorably placed the poor without a way out. It's a movie with a lot of layers and Korean director Boon Joon-Ho knew it was important to make it just as entertaining as it was to explore and read into. It looks like he's made another movie about class, except Parasite is a smaller story about two families, but is still as impactful.
We start with a family of four living in the slums, in a basement under a store; father Kim Ki-Taek (played by Song Kang-ho), mother Chung-sook (played by Jang Hye-jin), son Kim Ki-woo (played by Choi Woo-shik) and daughter Kim Ki-Jeong (played by Park So-dam). They struggle for work enough that they take jobs constructing pizza boxes. When a friend of the son comes to visit, he offers Kim Ki-woo an English tutoring job to a wealthy family's daughter. He accepts and sees a world he only dreamt of; a fancy house built by a famous architect, wide space, a backyard and nice cars.
After some convincing from the family, a scheme is made so that the daughter is hired as an art therapist for the youngest son, the father as a new driver/errand runner, and the mother as the new housekeeper. The family is overjoyed that their con has fooled the other family. This leads into them celebrating when the other family leaves for a camping trip by eating and drinking in the living room. Things go wrong when the previous housekeeper returns to get something.
Though there is a second half to the movie, I can't talk about it without spoiling it. Parasite is one of those movies that spans a lot of genres, and yet keeps it focused enough to make it one of the best movies of 2019. It may sound like a typical dark comedy, but because the character development focuses on all four members of the family, it allowed the story to go in a variety of directions that I didn't expect. At the front, this is still a story on class difference. A lot of these movies will revolve around the theme of "helping the poor". Thankfully, Parasite is a smarter movie and tries something different.
Parasite doesn't try to make the wealthy family out to be villains. But they don't try to paint the main family in a complete positive light either. These are all grey characters that are simply living life and the lengths their going to climb up. This could mean conning themselves into good jobs or getting a party together for a child. If anything, it tries to lean into how stabbing others in the back to get what they want is bad, but even that can depend on a number of factors. This movie is the prime example of "would you steal a loaf of bread to feed a starving family".
Not only is the movie written and directed beautifully, but it's acted amazingly. Though the movie is in Korean, you can tell the actors are still giving it their all as they each understand the complexities of their situation and why each one would make the decisions they make. This also remains one of the better ensemble pieces I've seen this year, hence why I'm not naming them one by one. I noticed this as well in Snowpiercer with how Bong Joon-ho knows how to cast as a whole and work with what he has.
I'll give this five fancy lights out of five. It may be in a different language, but this is already one of my favorite movies of the year. This is the kind of movie that can be hard to describe, but my best bet is to simply tell others to see it. I feel like that even talking about it a little could ruin it. Check it out and see just how complicated class difference really is.