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Choi Woo-shik in Parasite.
Choi Woo-shik in Parasite.
Photo: Showmax






5/5 Stars


Meet the Park family, the picture of aspirational wealth, and the Kim Family, rich in street-smarts, but not much else. Be it chance or fate, these two houses are brought together and the Kims sense a golden opportunity: masterminded by college-aged Ki-woo, the Kim children expediently install themselves as tutor and art therapist to the Parks. Soon, a symbiotic relationship forms between the two families—the Kims provide "indispensable" luxury services while the Parks obliviously bankroll their entire household. When a parasitic interloper threatens the Kims’ newfound comfort, a savage, underhanded battle for dominance breaks out, threatening to destroy the fragile ecosystem.


Director Bong Joon-ho captures the infinite melancholy, sickening violence and soul-crushing brutality of modern life in his masterpiece, Parasite. It's an extended allegory about capitalism, humanity and existence all wrapped up in a cinematically rich package. It uses a twisted and absorbing story about two families, one rich and one poor, to hold up a mirror up to the ugly face of inequality.

As I watched, enthralled in its minute detail, the movie soared into comical highs and dipped into the low underbelly of humanity. The worst/best moments made me squirm in my seat because I saw a part of myself in all the characters. No matter what the men and woman in each family did, I could simultaneously feel and see myself doing the same thing.

The desperation, the heartache, the endless dreaming of what life would be like if there were money not only for yourself but your family too is a thread that runs through this masterpiece as well as many people's lives.

I found myself marvelling at the ugliness of modern life and the universality of the "upstairs" and "downstairs" metaphor as a commentary on society's (global) class divide.

It's a topic that hits close to home, because like it or not, as South Africans we live in a country built on the back of people who are rarely spoken about with a hint of sympathy or compassion.

This movie unpacks the idea that poor people who work for rich people are such an intrinsic part of wealthy people's worlds, and yet don't know the hardships they face every day because they are so far removed from it.

The South Korean film director and screenwriter whose films include Snowpiercer, situated the film in a setting on the other side of the world that feels very familiar. It could easily be a house in Cape Town's lush suburbs. The wealthy people in this film don't care to think about what life might be like for those who play such an essential part in their lives but are also very dispensable.


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