When the credits began to roll, my head was clicking. The clicking continued as I exited the Millerton Moviehouse. It continued as I boarded the big, yellow, campus-bound school bus, marched by the graveyard en-route to Garland, and as my head hit the pillow that night. And the clicking continues in my head now.
The complexity and power of Bong Joon Ho’s film Parasite have not left my brain since then, and only God knows when they will. The film, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last May, is a South Korean dark comedy-thriller which has taken the West (and the Oscars) by storm.
The film tells the story (mild spoiler alert) of the wealthy Park family, who lives in a modern masterpiece of a home, and the Kim family, who lives in a packed underground apartment. Over the course of the film, members of the less fortunate Kim family infiltrate the Park household by working as tutors, drivers, and housekeepers. The Parks are completely unaware that their entire staff is related. The chaos that ensues is equally intriguing, hilarious, and horrifying.
As a filmmaker, I often ask myself what makes a good motion picture. Some people love the intense excitement of Marvel movies, while others enjoy the intellectual nuance of indie classics. For me, the best films find the middle between these two enjoyable extremes, and Parasite fits into this category.
Every second of Parasite had me on the edge of my seat. Whether it was the smile-inducing comedy or the heart-pounding horror, I was never bored. At the same time, Parasite engaged me intellectually. The themes were so elaborately intertwined with each aspect of the film that I felt as if I was witnessing the work of a modern-day Shakespeare. This film is no average thriller or comedy; through near-perfect writing, music, set design, editing, direction, cinematography, and acting, it is a joyful and terrifying examination of social class.
Parasite is the best film of the year, perhaps the best film of the decade. In an ideal world, the Academy will vote it Best Picture this year. However, Parasite undoubtedly faces an uphill battle as a foreign-language film in the Best Picture category, competing against films by Academy favorites Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino. Parasite is more than deserving the award, but whether or not the bias against foreign-language films will send it home without the statue is the question of the moment. We will soon find out. For the time being, I’ll keep my fingers crossed.