My curiosity about Parasite was piqued back when I first read Brian Tallerico's uncharacteristically effusive review on www.rogerebert.com (my usual go-to reviewer on my go-to site). To see it go on to win the Oscar for Best Picture this year (the first foreign language film ever to do so) only heightened my dismay at having missed it in theatres. Imagine my delight when Wallis mounted an encore season this week! While I'm not personally convinced it deserved the double gong, it's still a pretty spectacular film.
It's a very difficult one to categorise, seamlessly oscillating between drama, thriller, black comedy, allegory, heist caper and even dipping its toes into horror territory for a few minutes. Sometimes, even more impressively, it manages to achieve many of these simultaneously. A worse film would have fumbled trying to keep this many balls in the air (a couple of times, I felt it got dangerously close) but it somehow managed to strike a balance, often under a thin veil of absurdity.
I felt that I enjoyed it as much as I did because I knew literally nothing about it before I saw it, so if you plan to see it, I recommend keeping it that way. Therefore, I'll mention nothing specific about the story, except to say when The Important Thing happens midway through the second act, it's so completely and genuinely surprising, I nearly laughed with joy. You just have to marvel at the confidence with which it flips the narrative trajectory on its head. I already loved the rug, but when it was pulled out from under me, I realised the floorboards were even better, even if they could have done with a polish.
Personally, I thought the third act was 15-20 minutes too long, and it's actually here, in the most critical and exciting section, where it nearly lost me. I held on for dear life anyway, and the pay-off was definitely worth it, if for no other reason than people will be discussing it for years. I normally have a heightened sense of when I'm being preached at by a film trying to make a point, but I admired the way Parasite earned the right to ask questions about class and privilege, and leaves it up to each viewer to decide whether it's enough to simply have the conversation.
If you're asking for my opinion (and you're not), 1917 or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood would have taken out top spot if the Oscars were up to me (and they're not). However, that's more to do with me simply enjoying the experience of watching them more, rather than them being objectively Better Films (what does that even mean, anyway?). More original content like this and less remakes and sequels pls. Also, to the man in the row in front of me, stop gesticulating so much when something surprises you. I didn't pay to watch you. Get your own Fringe show or something if you want people to look at you so badly.