PARASITE – Review by Susan Granger

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When South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival it didn’t surprise those who were dazzled by his post-apocalyptic “Snowpiercer” (2013) and fantastical “Okja” (2017).

His newest venture explores the dynamics between two families at opposite ends of the economic spectrum in Seoul, combining crime drama, black comedy and dark social satire as their disparate worlds collide.

Despite living in a cramped, subterranean apartment, Ki-woo Kim (Choi Woo Shik), the amiable son of impoverished parents, lands a lucrative job tutoring Da-hye (Jung Ziso), the teenage daughter of wealthy tech executive Park Dong-ik (Lee Sun Kyun) and his gullible wife, Yeon-kyo (Cho Yeo Jeong).

Having secured that position using counterfeit credentials, he paves the way for the rest of the destitute Kim family to scam and insinuate themselves into domestic positions at the bourgeois Parks’ opulent, multi-level home that’s an architectural showcase.

Ki-woo’s older sister, Ki-jung (Park Sodam), is hired as an art therapist, working with Da-hye’s disturbed younger brother, Da-song (Jung Hyunjun), who is besotted with Native Americana. His father, Ki-taek (Song Kang Ho), becomes the Parks’ chauffeur, while his mother, Chung-sook (Jang Hyejin), usurps the chores of the Parks’ longtime housekeeper (Lee Jung Eun).

Of course, the pampered, unsuspecting Parks have no idea that these new ‘employees’ are related to one another. And – from there – it gets even more complicated.

FYI: In 2015, the top 10% of South Koreans held 66% of the nation’s wealth. That inequality, along with corruption scandals, prejudice and lack of social mobility, has engendered frustration and bitterness.

Scripting with Han Jin Won, director Boon Joon-ho reveals social awareness, sly humor and dry wit as he delves into the complex chasm between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots,’ unearthing class contempt and buried secrets. And until the very last frame, you’re never sure exactly where he’s going.

In Korean with English subtitles, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Parasite” is a suspenseful, acidic 9, a timely thriller that’s perhaps one of the best movies of the year.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.