I am going to be unpopular here because it’s unfashionable to do anything other than laud Parasite from the rooftops.
Let’s get a couple of things straight before the off.
- I have no issue with the ‘One inch barriers” to universal film appreciation that director Bong Joon Ho describes subtitles as. I have seen thousands of subtitled movies and Scandi Noirs.
- I have no, unlike Mr Trump, political bias against (sorry, not bias, prejudice in Trump’s case) South Korean cinema. Indeed I recently reviewed Chan Wook-Park’s The Handmaiden as 10 stars on IMDB. (Oldboy is a classic from Park, too.) I also loved Ho’s Okja and The Host, although I thought his English-speaking Snowpiercer was truly awful.
So this is not the problem, and just because I’m not raving about this doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, I did. I just feel the praise that’s being lavished upon it is greater than my appreciation.
I read one review on IMDB by ‘mysticfall’ that suggested anyone who didn’t love this was a moron and clearly didn’t understand it.
I had no issue with understanding it.
It’s essentially a movie about class and privilege in which Ho brings together South Korea’s richest and poorest in one household, with the poorest as servants, and sets up a scenario where he does not judge either for their caste.
Except he does.
As the film progresses it’s clear that the master of the house has an ingrained prejudice against the poor that manifests itself in his inability to understand or articulate that it’s their ‘smell’ that reeks of poverty, and is therefore undesirable.
Variously described as a comedy and horror it leans far more to the former with some extremely funny lines and a pretty strong dose of slapstick – as seen in Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton’s excellent Inside Number 9 episode – A Quiet Night In in which two cat-burglars attempt to steal paintings from an occupied house without a word of dialogue.
Almost all of Act 2 of Parasite was essentially this episode.
The horror that we are promised is actually gore, and is reserved for Act 3. It’s very much in the school of Tarantino, and, of course, Tarantino himself is heavily influenced by Asian film-making, so a certain circle is squared.
The performances are universally excellent but I feel that, on occasion, Ho strays into slightly heavy-handed territory – much in evidence in his direction of Snowpiercer. It’s not enough to spoil anything, but it clashes with the adulatory reviews I’ve read.
The cinematography is simply beautiful.
It’s a fine movie, but in my view 1917 was a more immersive cinematic experience and consequently deserved the Best Picture Academy Award.
Call me what you like, but I’m saying what I’m seeing.