Bong Joon-ho, South Korea, 2019
I find Korean cinema so refreshingly unusual, and previous films from this director are among my favourite ever, so when I suddenly realised this existed and it was released here a couple of weeks ago (I haven’t been paying attention), I had to go and see it immediately.
And it didn’t disappoint. It’s magnificent in so many ways. It looks lush and the sets are so carefully designed. We are certainly in a big city, but zooming in on these few people and these few places. And the places are significant. Everything that happens or that you see on screen is significant. The plot is at the same time unexpected, farcical, funny, and dark. The characters are multi-layered individuals who also manage to represent archetypes and provide the social commentary (particularly the division between wealthy and working classes) that the film examines. It also explores relationships between people without getting sentimental.
The title is very clever – who is the parasite here? It asks the question but doesn’t give us a definitive answer. So I loved this, and it deserves awards success (it already won the Palm D’Or at Cannes this year). Plus I had absolutely no problem with Spanish subtitles. Film students will be picking this one apart for years, but the main takeaway is: don’t live in a basement.