An Inept Con Run Against Gullible Rich: This is Parasite

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Parasite on Blu-ray

More than a few people expected PARASITE, the film from director Bong Joon Ho, to take the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. But far more were taken aback when the film swept out of that niche and into the broader part of the ceremony, nabbing the coveted Best Picture award.

Is it a good movie? It's okay. It's a bit of a slog in places, and for American audiences it is clogged with cultural references that won't strike any chords. Add to that the fact that the entire thing is subtitled throughout, and you end up with a recipe for Decidedly Not a Blockbuster.

PARASITE is the story of two Korean families -- the Parks and the Kims,  The Kims -- father Ki-taek (SONG KANG HO), mother Chung-sook (CHANG HYAE JIN, son Ki-woo (CHOI WOO SHIK) and daughter Ki-jung (PARK SO DAM) -- are a family that struggles with income. The presented reason for this seems to be an indolence and ennui, as they get jobs but do them so haphazardly as to obviouisly not care about them. This is demonstrated when they take a job folding pizza boxes, where a good percentage of them are folded wrong or damaged (not to mention all of them are covered with insecticide because Ki-taek decided to leave the windows open when the neighborhod got sprayed so they could get free extermination).

Things take a turn with Ki-woo is recommended by his friend for a tutoring position for the daughter of an affluent couple. The Park family lives in a world far removed from the half-basement dwellings of the Kim family, and although Ki-woo does not have the credentials to be an English tutor, he fakes the documentation and easily bluffs his way past Mrs. Park (CHO YEO JEONG). Upon learning that the Parks are looking for someone to tutor their young son in art, he gets the idea to recommend his sister for the position, lying about the relationship.

The ease with which they are able to manipulate the Parks leads the sister to create an opening for their father, by tainting the reputation of the Park family driver. One crash course in how to drive a Benz, and Ki-taek also finds himself in the employ of the powerful family, driving Mr. Park (LEE SUN KYUN) wherever he needs to go. All that's left is to give the Parks a reason to let go of their longtime housekeeper (LEE JUNG EUN), who literally came with the house when the Parks bought it, and replace her with Mrs. Kim, and the family will be fully employed and making easy money.

When the Park family goes off on a vacation, the Kims use the opportunity to make themselves at home in the mansion. But the return of the housekeeper unexpectedly reveals a surprise that could put their con game into a tailspin, when she learns they are all related and keeps evidence of them using the Park household. Suddenly, a precarious little con game turns into a series of deadly interactions, as the film ambles along toward an unsettling climax.

With a Best Picture win in their pocket and an HBO series adaptation in the works, this film has everyone talking. If you like to read your movies, definitely check this one out.

PARASITE is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.

3.5 / 5.0