No, I don’t need to see a doctor.
Bong Joon-ho’s film Parasite is great – fun fact. I’ve seen so many great films, but only a handful of them have rocked me to my core.
It’s the finale, that last moment that got me.
In a packed theater (Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX) I wasn’t about to get up at any moment to use the restroom. The characters found themselves in a peculiar situation about halfway through the film.
The rain sequence I immediately picked up on the juxtaposition of water/rock that Joon-ho was going for. The rock – the poor, the resilent, the person fighting for survival vs. the water, the rich that moves forward with life as if nothing is wrong or inappropriate about our world.
Okay, personification is one thing, and in the moments we see our protagonistic family observing a storm from the comfort of the rich family’s home – I understood how lavish staying dry seemed to them. How casually drinking and partying while observing a disturbed world was.
Then the previous maid returns, opens the basement cellar and all of the sudden the conflict heightens. Two poor families gaming this rich family so that they can have better lives.
Then they fight each other.
There are many ways you can twist this allegory. The rich send the poor over for war, don’t they? As they grow detached from the human suffering plaguing our world. They don’t see it. They don’t live around it. It’s as if it’s not happening.
Many of us, myself included live in this world to a degree. On a worldwide scale a lower-middle class citizen of the United States is still one of the richest on the world-scale.
When you have lower income you consider all the great things you’d do in the world if you filled the shoes of the bourgeoisie. But influence is strong, and complacency is the one of the most difficult thing to overcome in humanity.
All that aside, the poor families fighting served as a midpoint to the story. Things go from being slightly fun to horrific real quick when the previous maid falls is kicked violently down the stairs by the mother. Bashing her head and promptly appearing concussed. They are locked in the cellar. She is left to die and her husband, there to watch helplessly as he tries his best to send morse-code signals.
This is when the film takes a Hitchcockian route. The man reappears at the rich boy’s party, drawing a knife from the kitchen. It’s appropriately violent and the father of our main family eventually stabs the Ki-woo, the head of the household.
He is angry. He knows that this woman died and this man grew violent because of their actions, but he is fed up with the rich family, because all of this is due to their socio-economic situation in South Korea.
Their home flooding – that whole sequence was so masterful. Well directed, well edited, and you felt the devastation that all these poor families felt as everything they owned was destroyed by an unavoidable act of nature.
This previous event was the catalyst to the father’s actions during the climax.
Back to my main point – the ending.
Choi (the son) narrates as he goes back to the house years later, successfully and the father, hiding out in the cellar, is now able to come out freely.
That ends up being Choi’s dream. Knowing that we don’t live in a black/white world. Knowing that, you can work as hard as possible, and still be poor. Simultaneously it makes since for Choi to envision this potential future after his own violent head injuries.
Why Parasite works so well is because there are no loose ends to the story. The message is loud and clear and poignant for so many struggling people out there. Just because you’re poor doesn’t mean you don’t work hard. Just because you’re rich doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.
In the end our governments function the way they do because so far – it’s the best they’ve done. But things are far from perfect, and for some people that means war, famine, disease, violence, and disaster.