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Between Dark and Dawn

Parasite paints a picture of the hypocrisy of life, the disconnect between rich and poor, and how little time it takes for a person to go from good to bad. The movie centres on a South Korean family, the Kims,  who are near the bottom of society. They live in what is called a semi-basement and at the beginning of the story we see them struggling to try and make what money they can. Life clearly isn’t easy for them.

When the son in the family, Ki-woo, is recommended to a rich family to give English tuition, we quickly see the great dividing gap between the top and the bottom of the class system. Soon after Ki-woo begins working for the Park family, the other members of the Kim family take on jobs for the Parks.

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It does not take too long before the viewer questions the Kims methods for getting these new jobs and throughout the film we are constantly re-interpreting our feelings about the characters. They flutter from being the victims of a materialistic society to becoming conniving players in a complex game where there can really be no winners. It is this continuous change from good to bad that really keeps you wondering what will come round them next bend. 

While having fantastically sad moments, with new key characters and plot points being thrown in the depths of the narrative, Parasite is also extremely funny at points, translating extremely well to an english audience. One moment the whole cinema is chuckling at a slapstick scene, that makes you feel as if you are watching Laurel and Hardy, to another point in the narrative of exceptional brutality, verging on the torturous. It is wheerly-wind of feelings, moods, and moral stand points that makes sure that you are always on your toes.

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There are, however, moments when the film feels to be dragging, not for very long but those points are there all the same. I think this maybe because the movie jumps from moments of relative calm and cinematic beauty to the action being constantly high for another. 

There is no getting past it, Parasite is a beautiful looking film. I was caught by a number of shots that just left me slack-jawed in the cinema. It was just the simplest things, from the way that rain is shown, to how a great expanse of a shot made you feel just tiny in comparison to the action on the screen.

The writing by Bong Joon-bo is simply excellent, he manages to move the view from seeing the very depths of human darkness to the lighthearted, silliness of a comedy. You leave the cinema not quite knowing who was the good guy and who was the bad; none of the characters have clean hands, they all have things they should be ashamed of. The cast is also brilliant. From the foreign language films I have seen, which admittedly is not a huge range (and often, I am ashamed to say, doesn’t include those from Asia), I was pleasantly surprised about just how natural it felt for me to watch and take in the emotions of the characters on screen. 

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Parasite in many ways is not an easy film: it is hard to label it with one single genre, is it a thriller? A black comedy? A commentary on class and the role of different members of the family and society in general? To be honest it is all of them in one and it is because of this that makes it a difficult watch as well. Throughout I kept telling myself that in the casts shoes I wouldn’t do the same thing but I’m really not that sure if that’s true. The movie helps to show that even when we try and judge people in an objective way, devoid of all influences, we are still drawn back to some ingrained feelings about class and social standing and there are very few films that do this as well as Parasite. 

Often dark and heart-wrenching but with the kind of comedic relief that can catch you off guard
Positives
A narrative that will make you question the characters and the world around you.
Beautiful cinematography.
A cast that bring you every thought and feeling of the characters they portray.
Bong Joon-bo has created a movie that is deserving of every award it has received.
Negatives
At moments it feels like it's dragging but yet it is just over 2 hours long
4.5

Concourse is Keele University’s independent student-run publication and has a long history of promoting student journalism. Having been established in 1964, Concourse has become an important part of the university and has been read by generations of Keelites.

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