Parasite (2019)

In Cinemas Now

Misplaced familyhood.

A poor family's and a rich family's lives unexpectedly intersect in this Palme d'Or-winning tragicomedy from South Korean auteur, Bong Joon-Ho (Okja).

"Ki-taek's family of four is close, but fully unemployed, with a bleak future ahead of them. The son Ki-woo is recommended by his friend, a student at a prestigious university, for a well-paid tutoring job, spawning hopes of a regular income. Carrying the expectations of all his family, Ki-woo heads to the Park family home for an interview. Arriving at the house of Mr. Park, the owner of a global IT firm, Ki-woo meets Yeon-kyo, the beautiful young lady of the house. But following this first meeting between the two families, an unstoppable string of mishaps lies in wait." (Cannes Film Festival)



Palme d'Or, Cannes 2019

Directed by

Written by

Drama, World Cinema


Rating: 16 D L S V

Korean with English subtitles

South Korea

On paper, Parasite may look a familiar beastie—chronicling the divide between haves and have-nots (hello, other films by director Bong Joon-ho), it’s a Palme d’Or-winning tale about a down-on-their-luck family, none of whom are averse to a scam (hi, last year’s Cannes winner Shoplifters). But surface similarities be damned, Parasite charts its own course, into some unexpected territory and burrowing right into your head.

Living in a sub-basement, leeching off the neighbour’s WiFi and clinging to employment opportunities like the mass folding of pizza boxes, the Kim family struggles to get by at even a subsistence level. Bending the truth, exaggerating, and outright lying are the available tools to get ahead, bolstered with some nifty internet cafe digital forgery when college-aged Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) is handed the opportunity to be an English tutor by a friend. The family turns out to be wealthy, they want bona fides (even if they don’t check them), and Ki-woo quickly sees the opportunity to turn a little lie into a series of them, gradually getting the other members of his family employed in a range of service positions. The catch being, the four Kims can’t let on they know one another—and then there’s another catch, then another…

Shaking off the more obvious genre elements he embraced in recent films Okja and Snowpiercer, director Bong’s grounded this tale in a contemporary cinematic reality, but still seems to relish a mix of tones. Comedy, drama and thriller elements prove balanced ingredients in his hands, with plenty of scope for pointed observations of human nature. The humour’s pretty black, and the film leans towards the grim in both narrative and look, while Bong manages to conjure edge-of-the-seat moments out of everything from the mundane to over-the-top.

As a domestic thriller, Parasite is efficient and effective, and even more so as a sometimes voyeuristic look inside two very different families where camera and characters intrude on private moments. Like the title suggests, this is not a symbiotic relationship, and as morals become muddled and stakes become ever-higher it’s to Bong’s credit that our sympathies seldom stray far from the film’s central anti-heroes.

Proving he doesn’t need the trappings of a sci-fi future or cartoonish satire to make a point (not to mention that “serious” critical attention comes more readily without them), Bong has crafted a modern classic. It’s a gripping, frequently funny and often nerve-wracking film in which one family’s attempt to survive modern capitalism may just show that some of us already live a somewhat dystopian existence.

Hollywood Reporter


Parasite is generally gripping and finely crafted, standing up well as Bong's most mature state-of-the-nation statement since Memories of Murder in 2003.

Los Angeles Times


As an escalating freak show of tension, surprise and class rage, "Parasite" would make a terrific double bill with Jordan Peele's "Us," which it matches and perhaps even surpasses in pact.

Variety (USA)


Bong is back and on brilliant form, but he is unmistakably, roaringly furious, and it registers because the target is so deserving, so enormous, so 2019: "Parasite" is a tick fat with the bitter blood of class rage.

FilmInk (Australia)


...the work of a director intoxicatingly in his element.

The Times (UK)


You expect the whole enterprise to come crashing down around his ears, but this is a film-maker in total control of his craft.

The Guardian


Parasite gets its tendrils into you.

Total Film (UK)


It grips from first frame to last. (Graeme Tuckett)


Parasite is a masterclass in writing and narrative control. That a film as funny, subversive and relevant as this can still win the Cannes Palme d'Ór makes me very happy indeed.


What a devastating and an absolute rollercoaster of a movie. Parasite will surely garner even more praise than Bong Joon-Ho's other great work on the socio-economic divide, Snowpiercer.