Parasite bears an immediate resemblance to Jason Peele’s US, a horror film in which underground tunnels are the habitat of dopplegangers cloned by our government in a failed experiment and condemned to live below eating rabbit meat. In the Korean film, things are a bit better - there is a window to the street above the basement dwelling but the view is of a repeat urinator who chooses that corner for his daily excretions. To summarize the plot, we have a family living in close quarters who manage to insinuate themselves into excellent jobs working for a wealthy family living in the most architecturally dazzling house in recent film history. That and the score are two sufficiently good reasons to see the movie but there are more.
One of the best features is that the characters are not generic - the parents and two children in the basement are lively, attractive people with back stories and ambitions and we are not surprised when they become assets to the wealthy couple, both of whom are somewhat dim despite their good looks and affluence. The best part of the screenplay is in the denouement of how the poor deceive the rich in a fully satisfying way for all concerned. There is a troubled young boy who needs special care and the clever, artistic basement daughter is perfect for that role. The wealthy daughter requires a tutor and the wily basement son is central casting for that. Best of all are the father who becomes the chauffeur and his crackerjack wife who takes over the role of housekeeper with super-human speed and efficiency.
Eventually, this plot gives way to a secret that relates to the movie US, but that is a spoiler which I won’t reveal. At this point, the filmmaker* gives vent to far too many excesses which turn a character-driven plot into a frenzy of visual horror. This is further complicated by the need for inserting speeches and allusions to social injustice as if we were too dense to parse that from the contrasting lifestyles of basement dwellers vs those whose closets resemble department stores. Despite the intrusive heavy hand, Parasite is smart, well-acted and directed and highly recommended.
* I have omitted the names of all the Koreans fairly certain that they are unfamiliar to readers and can easily be found by film buffs on google.
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