My Rating: 10 of 5 Stars
It has been exactly 47 days since the avalanche hit me but I clearly remember my stand in the aftermath. When the final frame of the movie blacked out and the end credits started rolling on the screen, I didn’t move. I continued in the near still position I had sat all through the 130 odd minutes, clutching a racing and an aching heart, a tense and a laughing heart, a bewitched and a cursing heart. And when I noticed a security guard’s mouth moving directly above my head, I realized the auditorium was almost empty and I was being asked to leave. I nodded and he left. But I didn’t. Not yet. Not before standing there all alone, clapping for what I consider must have been a minute. To PARASITE. To BONG JOON-HO.
PARASITE, in a nutshell, is about a poor family of four, the Kims, who con their way to gain employment in a rich household of four, the Parks. But things start going awry when greed and power begin rearing their ugly heads. What follows is an exhilarating ride I know I shall never forget.
The auteur is at his imperious best – from the plot to the storytelling, from the cinematography to the acting, the master justifies why art is such a significant tool to understand our lives and why it must never be compromised in forming our extensions.
The plot throws light on the class divide that is wedged deeply into the society. Right from the opening scene where the younger Kim, who is latching onto the neighbor’s wi-fi through a jailbreak, is joined by his father in receiving a free fumigation session into their dilapidated basement house by keeping their room’s window open, one realizes that the money divide is just the surface; deep under this veneer lies the sharp human mind, capable of sliding on the scale of tenacity to keep up with the depleting cover on head.
The indifference towards money and its usage by the affluent Parks, on the other extreme, is underlined by a naiveté mistress of the house who easily employs people, without a second thought, to meet the whims of her children and is accentuated by her husband whose shrewd and businesslike credentials are no deterrent to his ways of frittering away money and nursing fragile ego. The conversations and the exchanges, and the resultant tilting of scales in favour of one against the other in one scenario and reversal of fates in another is so inherent in all societies across the world that I forgot before I knew that this movie is set in South Korea. It could have been India, or Russia, or Poland, or literally any place in the world.
But showing a class divide by pitting two families on the opposite tip of the balance is commonplace, and even the dazzling turn of events and style in which it is depicted cannot impart the invincibility cloak to Bong. But nothing, absolutely NOTHING, in this movie is commonplace. Because the class divide is not just between the poor and the rich; it also between the poor and the poor. And this is where the master takes a seat back and lets me scream in mad mayhem. The storytelling! What fabulous twists! He kept me guessing all through the movie even though he threw breadcrumbs for me to follow. I felt thankful for the audacity he exhibited in throwing out the expected in favour of the unexpected because what are we if not for the streak of the feral surging through our veins, keeping us from turning into a pre-programmed machine?
And the actors? Oh they are so ravishingly perfect in their roles that I wondered if he selected them first and then wrote the story instead of going the traditional way. I read somewhere that he took from his own experience as a tutor in shaping the young lead of the movie. I think he must have been an immensely intuitive teacher, scooping up the right gears at the right time to make his pupil comprehend things better and for long.
Oh and I must speak about the throbbing intelligence of Bong – it is in every frame. Stamping the word ‘compromise’ under the solid heel of film-making, he juxtaposes the grim and the bright, the humor and the kill, the storm and the calm, the simple and the contorted, the good and the disturbing in one taut, fine palimpsest that both reflects our biases and refracts our hope.
When I thought my spinning head has finally come to a halt, he reset it in another direction in the last five seconds. The LAST 5 SECONDS! And guess what? I felt right. So stable and so right. The blanket of authenticity was yet again wrapped around the characters and I felt uncharacteristically thankful for his thinking. I felt thankful for him not succumbing to the banality of convention. I felt thankful for the gift of bittersweet pain he gave me because what are we if not the bearers of gravelly hearts with velvets of memories breaking the monotony? He was pragmatic yet empathetic – rare, won’t you say?
Well, you don’t come across a movie like PARASITE every day but you wish you did.
You wish someone gave you a viewfinder and let you see the world you never saw before. You wish someone showed you the startling ways your mind works without any prior acquaintance with you. You wish someone showed you the meaning of passion in every frame that lit up on your psyche. You wish someone brought you a little closer to being human. You wish you met someone like Bong Joon-ho every day. You wish you witnessed a spectacle like PARASITE every day.
I know I am going to witness it one more time in 2 days from now. And I am certain I shall find another piece of canvas to fall in love with. I am sure I shall uncover a meaning whose cryptic cover was beyond my attention last time; I am convinced a new piece of music will catch me unawares and trigger new sentiments. I know this shall happen because a masterpiece never stops speaking.