South-Korean black comedy/social satire comes to Williams Lake this week to kick off the Williams Lake Film Club’s 2020 lineup.
On Friday, January 10, the Williams Lake Film Club is thrilled to be bringing to the Gibraltar Room, Parasite, the South Korean film that won the Palme d’Or, the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019. This is the award given to the film that is considered ‘the best’ of all those screened at Cannes.
Directed and co-written by 50-year-old filmmaker, Bong Joon-ho, Parasite defies the label of any one genre – it is a comedy, political satire, thriller, suspense film and family drama all rolled into one, and at every turn, it is relentlessly and marvellously entertaining. Nominated at the Golden Globes in the categories of Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Dramatic Movie, where it was awarded the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film on Jan. 5, Parasite is likely to get Academy Award nominations in the same categories, as well as for Best Foreign Language Film, the Academy Award nominations will be announced on Jan. 13.
Parasite is the story of two four-member families living in South Korea who live in completely different economic circumstances. Each family is comprised of a father, mother, son and daughter. The first family we are introduced to – the Kims – live on the edge of poverty in a constricted smelly basement apartment, one that is overridden with bugs. The father hasn’t held down a job in years, and the mother is too unreliable and emotional to work.
Their university-aged children, son Ki-woo and daughter Ki-jung, are ambitious and enterprising, but can’t afford university admission. The family barely ekes out a living by folding pizza delivery boxes, at which they don’t do a very good job.
Meanwhile, the Parks, live in affluence and wealth in a massive estate designed by a renowned architect. The father is an emotionally absent, but highly successful tech executive, and his stay at home wife is nervous and high-strung. While the Parks are not bad people they are barely aware of lower-class people and think little of using their employed help and servants far beyond the duties of their job descriptions.
The families slowly become enmeshed when Ki-Woo’s wealthy friend announces he’s going to study abroad, and he encourages Ki-Woo to take his place as the tutor of the Park’s teenaged daughter, Da-hye. The Parks prove to be easily deceived, and after his sister forges some documents, Ki-Woo is hired.
Once there, Ki-woo finds ways to bring another family member into the employ of the Park family. When he notices their son’s talent for art, and his behavioural problems, he suggests an art therapist “friend of a cousin” to the Parks, although it is actually his sister he has in mind, who has no training as an art therapist. Although down and out, the Kims are clever and willing to lie at a whim when it comes to their advantage. By the end of the film’s first hour, all the Kims are parasitically working for the Park family by dishonest means, although the Parks do not realize their new employees are related to each other.
This in itself would make for an interesting movie, but filmmaker Joon-ho has a lot more in store for the audience – and this is where the movie begins to get very interesting, involved, and engaged in some brilliant plot twists. No spoilers here, but safe to say by the end of the movie we are not sure who the parasites really are.
Bong Joon-ho’s style is masterful and accomplished, with every scene exquisitely framed, detailed and structured in a very classically cinematic way. As Joon-ho articulates, “[a]s a film fanatic myself, I always want to shoot films that deliver that sense of cinematic excitement. So that’s something I prioritize and I think that in order to achieve that, I need to introduce really interesting individuals. So rather than big political themes, I focus on characters that are fascinating and make you want to explore more” (quoted in the AV Club). It is no surprise that one of his favourite directors is Alfred Hitchcock, the original master of suspense.
As film critic, Richard Roeper, puts it, “[t]his is a film of such dramatic power and innovative comedy and romantic poetry and melancholy beauty that upon exiting a screening, you may well feel the urge to tell everyone in the lobby of the multiplex to delay their plans to check out some mainstream offering because if they truly love cinema, they should see THIS movie, immediately” (Chicago Sun-Times).
Parasite is rated R for language, some violence and sexual content.
Doors open at the Gibraltar Room at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 general admission and $10 for students and seniors (65+). Tickets purchasable at the door and on sale now at The Open Book.