Filmmaker Bong Joon-ho outdid himself with every aspect of this movie. This commentary on greed and class introduces a nuance to disadvantage that recent social commentaries masked in super villain movies (cough cough, Joker) lacked. The plot took many unpredictable twists and turns and did so with incredible imagery that often spoke for itself. This movie was a breath of fresh air.
It is hard to simply pick one “good” thing about this movie, and each standalone quality positively reinforced one another in an almost symphonic way. The plot line was at its core about class discrimination, the performance of vs. the intrinsic nature of status, and the absurdity of it all. Beautifully written, the plot progressed from lighthearted to increasingly dark in an arc reflective of the family’s own internal turmoil.
While the script demonstrated the reality of what was going on within the home and within the Kim’s, the shots in this film frequently juxtaposed absurd manifestations of wealth with heart wrenching realities of poverty in a manner that made it impossible not to acknowledge their inextricable linkage. The juxtaposition of these shots often told a story, but even standing alone many shots were entrenched with symbolism and were quite simply, marvelous.
The final piece to this masterpiece was the unexpected character development. While the entire premise of the movie is essentially a family pretending to be someone they are not, what occurs onscreen is a slow, insidious metamorphosis into who they really are. I would argue that a similar transformation occurs for the adult members of the Park family. The difference is only one family is perceived as pretending, speaking to privilege wealth breeds.
If I had to find something to critique in this movie, it would be the extremely lengthy run time. Although I thoroughly enjoyed watching this movie, it felt as long as it was. This long run time, however, was absolutely necessary for the development of the Kim and Park families. There were scenes that on the surface may have not seemed crucial, but through the performances of the cast, and of Kang-Ho Song specifically, it was demonstrated that a deeper matter laid below the surface.
The subplot involving a high schooler being pursued by multiple college aged men was, to put it simply, gross. The decision for Ki-woo to pursue Da-hye romantically was in-line with his character development, yet the age gap made it predatory and the film definitely could have lived without it.
Bong Joon Ho brings his work home to Korea in this pitch-black modern fairytale. Meet the Park Family: the picture of aspirational wealth. And the Kim Family, rich in street smarts but not much else. Be it chance or fate, these two houses are brought together and the Kims sense a golden opportunity. Masterminded by college-aged Ki-woo, the Kim children expediently install themselves as tutor and art therapist, to the Parks. Soon, a symbiotic relationship forms between the two families. The Kims provide “indispensable” luxury services while the Parks obliviously bankroll their entire household. When a parasitic interloper threatens the Kims’ newfound comfort, a savage, underhanded battle for dominance breaks out, threatening to destroy the fragile ecosystem between the Kims and the Parks.