BY // GRAHAM STEINBERG
Near the end of the film Ki-woo hysterically laughs after his own near-death experience. It is emblematic of Parasite’s capabilities of seamlessly blending comedy with tragedy. Like all of Bong Joon-ho’s films, it’s a story of the disparities between rich and poor. About how people try to rise out of the claustrophobic squalor (as depicted in the film’s many basements) and aspire for something greater. It’s not being selfish, it’s being able to survive.
His films combined tell a greater narrative of class struggle and are always topped with a completely unexpected twist of fate ending on par with the greatest works of Shakespeare. But Parasite pushes this one step further. It is a story so distraughtly absurd you cannot look away but also one deeply rooted in the way our world looks down on those beneath their feet.
It is the story of Mr. Kim’s smell. That festering stink we cannot scrub off of ourselves because you cannot wash off what the world has placed over you. It is the story of how we all have a plan for success but it rarely goes the way we anticipate. With Parasite, Bong Joon-ho earns his place as a mastermind of cinema and a foreseer of the wrought inequality that divides our world.