By David Kavanagh | posted on February 14, 2020
LEGENDARY South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho made history on Monday when his hit flick Parasite became the first foreign language film to ever win the Oscar for Best Picture.
Bong’s extraordinary achievement at the 92nd Academy Awards capped off a throng of accolades the film has received this award season and is elevated further when considering the behemoths he was up against.
Scorsese’s three-and-a-half hour gangster opus The Irishman, Tarantino’s ever-subversive Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood and Noah Baumbach’s incredibly realised Marriage Story fell short of Bong’s latest due to one inarguable truth: we knew what to expect.
That is not so much a critique of any of these films, all of which were some of the best put out by their respective auteurs in years, but a resounding endorsement of Bong’s latest.
Parasite is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Described in some circles as a dark comedy, others as a mystery/ thriller, and elsewhere yet as something akin to a capitalistic horror, the 2019 film is difficult to present cleanly.
Its eclecticism makes it frustrating to talk about, in large part because to ruin even one of the numerous twists and surprise tonal shifts that riddle its runtime could be regarded as a moviegoer’s cardinal sin.
Suffice to say, the film succeeds in merging these aforementioned genres in a way that ensures you never quite know where you’re going.
The simple premise is this; a family, clinging to the lowest rung of the socio-economic ladder in South Korea’s capital of Seoul, find themselves in the employ of their far wealthier counterparts by way of luck.
An unexpected discovery, and the word ‘unexpected’ cannot be stated enough, soon threatens their shot at financial stability.
That’s it. That’s all I can say.
Parasite is buoyed by some incredible performances by Kang-ho Song, an acting titan in South Korea comparable in prestige to Al Pacino, Woo-sik Choi and So-dam Park.
The visuals are sharp, the score suits perfectly, and the script and dialogue, which shifts between Korean and occasionally English, is witty, realistic and memorable.
While the subtitle averse might find the idea of a foreign language film daunting, Parasite does not feel inaccessible in the slightest.
Bong has a proven history of merging the world of Western cinema with its Asian equivalent, having directed cross cultural crowd pleasers like 2013’s Snowpiercer and Okja four years later.
Much like these films, Parasite explores themes relevant and familiar to audiences across the globe, and is likely to strike a chord with almost everyone because of it.
It serves as a biting dissection of class struggle and income inequality, as well as a morally-challenging exploration of the lengths we will go to in order to make a life for our loved ones.
It’s funny. It’s clever. It’s brutal and unnerving and immensely satisfying, and hands-down the right choice for Best Picture this year.