A Jagged Mirror: A Review of ‘Parasite’

In this year’s crop of Best Picture nominations, there are the expected choices: the epic war drama, the Scorsese film, the powerhouse drama, the WWII film (although this one is rather insouciant), but, Parasite is quite unlike its contemporaries in that its scathing look at modern capitalism forces its audience to hold up a mirror to themselves, and we’re probably not going to like what we see.

Parasite is the story of the Kim family, who struggle to make ends meet. When the son, Kim Ki-woo is referred by a friend to be the English tutor of a rich family’s daughter, he and his sister, Kim Ki-jeong, see an opportunity to change the fortunes of their family. Together with their parents Ki-taek and Chung-sook, they pose as skilled workers for the Park family, going so far as to fake credentials and references to ensure that they get hired.  No spoilers here, but it all goes well, until it doesn’t, and what starts out as a seemingly harmless ploy to scam the unaware upper class turns into something dark and deadly.

Bong Joon-ho’s emphasis on depicting the grim side of capitalism results in a film that is riveting, but not always comfortable to watch. Mr. Park’s casual disdain for those he feels are beneath him is both repulsive and relatable, and the Kim family’s quick descent into cutthroat greed demonstrates that perhaps the base instinct of humanity is entirely self-serving.

Parasite‘s focus is to expose the things that are unspoken but accepted as “way of life” in our society, namely social inequality. If Parasite makes us take a good look at our society’s reflection in the mirror of capitalism, the reflection comes from a mirror that is dirty and broken. The jagged edges of this mirror slice through the complacent worldview of modern societies, revealing that the true parasite is capitalism itself.

The Academy Awards are tonight and Parasite is the first film from South Korea to receive such prominent Award recognition, being nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best International Feature Film. Will it win? Well, historically speaking, the odds aren’t stacked in favor of films not in English, but Parasite has quite a large amount of buzz surrounding it and Bong Joon-ho as of late.

Should Parasite win?

Absolutely. Parasite is an important film that is exquisitely well-crafted. Bong Joon-ho is deserving of any and all accolades, and I desperately hope he takes home the Best Director and Best Film statues tonight.

What do you think of this year’s nominees? Tweet us @collectivenerds!