parasite: an organism that lives in or on an organism of another species (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the other’s expense.
Two days ago, on a cold winter’s day, my friend Lee and I went to see the movie “Parasite.” Well, Lee had called me that morning and asked me if I wanted to see the movie in about an hour and a half.
“Sure,” I said. I wanted to hibernate on such a cold day, but I love movies even more than holing up inside in the hopes that winter will end faster if I don’t look at it. Well, heck, I truly love movies. So much so that, when I was a student in journalism school, my career goal was to be a film critic, something that never happened.
I was very excited about seeing the first foreign language film to win the Best film award at the Academy Awards. “Parasite” was also the winner of the Palme D’Or in the Cannes Film Festival.
“Parasite” is a 2019 movie that was directed by Bong Joon Ho, in Soeul, South Korea.
We went to the movie theater and plopped into our seats as numerous previews were shown, one after the other. There were car chases, gruesome battles, people climbing onto really high things in the most dizzying way possible, and women in nineteenth century dresses painting with oil paint and not getting any paint on their fashion statements (that’s not very realistic).
And then, showtime! The feature film is about two families in Seoul: one rich and one struggling financially. For one family, it is the best of times, and, for the other, the worst. The Park family lives in a large house with enormous windows; the Kim family lives in a basement. The view from the wealthy house is gorgeous nature. The view from the basement is a bar and a vagrant who regularly uses the side of the building as a toilet. One family holds dinner parties and serves extravagant hors d’oeuvres and wines. The other family tries to get random jobs and to find free meals where ever they can. The wealthy family has all of the technology that anyone could wish for, while the poorer family has to steal wifi by finding the one spot in the house where they can get a signal. The families become intertwined in various employment relationships. Eventually, it becomes apparent that one of the families is parasitic. What is not apparent is which of the two families is the parasitic one: the wealthy couple that relies on the poor family to provide English tutoring, in-home art therapy services, and to chauffeuring or the poorer family who tries to get as much money as possible out of the rich people.
I found the movie to be spellbinding. I felt all emotions when I watched it, from laughter to terror to tears. In one of the funnier scenes, the Park family housekeeper hilariously imitates a North Korean broadcaster, to great comedic effect. There were moments of terror, and there was tragedy, but I will say no more.
In my opinion, the thing that made this movie brilliant was that it left you thinking and wondering who the parasites really were. It also powerfully illustrated the chasm between rich and poor. It painted a portrait of how different the lives of the rich and the poor were within neighborhoods just a few miles of each other.
I cannot recommend this movie enough. If you get a chance, go see it. It is definitely worth watching.