A dark comedy, a mystery surrounding the true nature of the roles we assume in society.
A drama, a horror film exposing the implications of greed, discrimination, and poverty.
Parasite. It's won the Academy Award for best picture, and now I see why.
My roommate and I decided to see what all the hype of this movie was about. We had watched the trailer, but couldn't quite put on finger on what the movie was about or what it would entail. We took our uber to Arc Light Theatre, bought some popcorn, and proceeded to our seats. We were in for a shock.
The movie sets scene on an impoverished Korean family – father Ki-taek, mother Chung-sook, son Ki-woo, and daughter Ki-jung - living in a basement-like shelter of an unpredictable slum. We see a very closely-knit kin, struggling for ways to better their circumstances. In comes a friend of the Ki-woo, asking him to take his place as a tutor of a rich family while he studies abroad. Ki-woo will have to take on the persona of a stable, educated student, faking documents of his situation and completely fooling the upper-class family. Little do we know, this request would wreak havoc on the future of his family.
Upon winning over the mother, and attaining the job, Ki-woo successfully manipulated her into hiring his sister, Ki-jung, as an art-therapist who can help her young son, who has been traumatized from his experiences with a "ghost". Of course, all her techniques were found on Google and her certifications are complete bullshit. Together, they get their whole family hired: their father takes on the role of a driver, and their mother a housekeeper – both jobs strategically stolen from prior employees.
However, the old housekeeper comes back with a request: she left something in the basement.
Here, the entire mood of the movie changes. We see a comedic situation of a poor family tricking a rich family into making money off of them, turn into an eerie, quite depressing situation.
We see that the woman goes into the basement for her husband, who she has been hiding for over four years, with nowhere else to house him. Now, the lower-class family taking her position has leverage. However, while eavesdropping, of course, they are heard and exposed as all being related – all being con-artists. They both have leverage, and it becomes a sprawl for existence. The old housekeeper is left dead.
Ki-woo asks his dad, what was his plan?
The dad replies, this wasn't a part of the plan.
After a series of events, everything implodes at the birthday party of the son of the rich family. The man, being kept in a basement and witnessing his wife killed, has gone completely mad. He puts the Ki-woo in a coma, escapes the basement, grabs a knife, and runs straight toward the Ki-jung. A mass stabbing results, leaving Ki-jung dead, the father of the rich family dead, and his son even more traumatized. His ghost has come to life, knife in hand, massacre at heart.
Personally, I have seen this anger, this revenge against the world, this hatred, in real life. This scene became my reality my junior year of high school, when I witnessed a mass school shooting. To see these kinds of experiences from the other side – to see the buildup of invisibility, worthlessness, resentment – that could lead to such a state of mind that someone could pick up a knife - or a gun - and slash it through a young girl's chest was truly empowering. I'm not saying that it was okay, or acceptable in any way for this man to take someone's life. But what I am saying is that I see his pain, his anger. Is it really his fault? Or is it an accumulation of all of our failed efforts as a collective to provide equality for all?
The movie does so much more than expose the struggle for existence. With the power dynamic between the rich family and the two impoverished families, we see so much more. It says so much about the interplay between the upper and lower class. It says so much about the interplay between the individual and society - between the minority and the majority.
There is so much inequality, so much unfairness in this world.
I left the movie in quite a weird mood, almost a haze. It was so sanctioning, yet so sad, and so real.
The movie ended by showing Ki-taek hiding in the basement. He had gone mad seeing his daughter killed, and killed the father of the rich family. Under investigation, he sought refuge, but had found communication with his son through Morse code.
Ki-woo asked him again, what was your plan throughout all of this?
He acknowledged his plan: his son was to become successful, to work his way up the social ladder and maybe one day, buy the house so that his dad could see the light of day again.
But this never happened. Instead, the son and his mother are left to cope with the death of their sister/daughter, and the captivity of their father in secrecy.
Life doesn't always have a happy ending, not for all of us. And maybe that's the most powerful lesson of all.