Before Parasite, I’d seen four films by respected Korean director Bong Joon-ho — The Host (’06), Mother (’09), Snowpiercer (’13) and Okja (’17). My reactions were the same all along — I admired the craft and energy, didn’t believe the stories. To me it seemed obvious that Bong was more into high impact movie-ness than establishing at least a tenuous relationship between his scenarios and the terms and conditions of real life.
The darkly humorous Parasite, which I saw three weeks ago, is different. For the first time Bong allows you to half-invest in the story (co-written by himself and Han Jin-won), which offers a satiric portrait of South Korea’s haves and have-nots. Up to a point, the world of Parasite actually resembles the way things are, or at least could be. But it still feels more movie-ish than persuasive.
There’s no believing that the desperately poor Kim family (mom, dad, son, daughter), each having wangled jobs from the rich Park clan, could successfully pretend over the long run to be non-related strangers in the eyes of their employers. It’s completely reckless and stupid for the Kims to gorge on fine food and get drunk while the Parks are away on on a brief vacation, and it makes no sense to admit a resentful former employee into the home while they’re bombed. And the violent ending is absurd. But I liked it better than the previous four Bong flicks, and that’s not insignificant.
U.S. and British critics have been creaming over Bong Joon-ho films since The Host. They’re invested in this history, and will never modify their enthusiasm. All this trailer does is pass along the ecstatic Cannes reviews.