Comedy Drama

Upstairs, Downstairs: A TIFF Review of ‘Parasite’

September 19, 2019Ben MK

Bong Joon-ho is no stranger to using genre storytelling as sociopolitical allegory. And with Parasite, the South Korean auteur adds to his already impressive repertoire — a list of films that includes such modern classics as Okja, Snowpiercer and The Host.

A tale about South Korea's class divide, the story follows two families from opposite walks of life. At one end, we have Kim Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho), his wife Chung-sook (Chang Hyae-jin) and their two children, Ki-jung (Park So-dam) and Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik), who spend their days folding pizza boxes in their basement apartment for chump change. And at the other, we have the Park family, a wealthy foursome who live in a luxury home designed by an award-winning architect, complete with a live-in maid (Lee Jeong-eun). But when Ki-woo gets a job tutoring the Parks' teenage daughter Da-hye (Jung Ziso), it sets into motion a series of bizarre events that irrevocably entangle the two families' fates.

Darkly funny and unmistakably chilling, Parasite is a must-see for fans of South Korean cinema — but it's hybrid of black comedy and violent thriller is so utterly mesmerizing that it crosses language barriers.

Parasite makes its Canadian premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 11 min.

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