Parasite (2019 film)

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Parasite
Parasite (2019 film).png
South Korean theatrical release poster
Hangul기생충
Hanja寄生蟲
Revised Romanizationgisaengchung
McCune–Reischauerkisaengch'ung
Directed byBong Joon-ho
Produced by
  • Kwak Sin-ae
  • Moon Yang-kwon
  • Bong Joon-ho
Screenplay by
  • Bong Joon-ho
  • Han Jin-won
Story byBong Joon-ho[1]
Starring
Music byJung Jae-il[1]
CinematographyHong Kyung-pyo[3]
Edited byYang Jin-mo
Production
company
Barunson E&A[1]
Distributed by
Release date
  • 21 May 2019 (2019-05-21) (Cannes)
  • 30 May 2019 (2019-05-30) (South Korea)
Running time
132 minutes[4][5]
CountrySouth Korea[4][1]
LanguageKorean[1]
Budget₩13.5 billion[6]
(~US$11 million)
Box office$148 million[7][8]

Parasite (Korean기생충) is a 2019 South Korean black comedy thriller film directed by Bong Joon-ho, who also wrote the film's story and co-wrote the screenplay with Han Jin-won. The film stars Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, and Park So-dam, and follows the members of a poor household scheming to become employees of a much wealthier family by posing as unrelated, highly qualified individuals.

Parasite had its world premiere at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival on 21 May 2019, where it became the first Korean film to win the Palme d'Or and the first film to do so with a unanimous vote since 2013's Blue Is the Warmest Colour. The film was released in South Korea by CJ Entertainment on 30 May 2019 and in the rest of the world through 2019 to early 2020. It received widespread acclaim from critics, with many ranking it among the best films of the 2010s.[9][10] It grossed $139 million worldwide, becoming Bong's highest-grossing release and the third highest-grossing film in South Korea.[11]

At the 92nd Academy Awards, the film earned six nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best International Feature Film, making it the first South Korean film to be nominated in those categories. At the 77th Golden Globe Awards, the film won the award for Best Foreign Language Film, and it also received four nominations at the 73rd British Academy Film Awards.

Plot[edit]

The Kim family, consisting of father Kim Ki-taek, mother Chung-sook, son Ki-woo, and daughter Ki-jeong, live in a small semi-basement apartment, working low-paying temporary jobs and struggling to make ends meet. Ki-woo's friend Min-hyuk, who is preparing to study abroad, gifts the Kim family with a scholar's rock that is supposed to bring them wealth. Min-hyuk suggests that Ki-woo pose as a university student to take over his job as an English tutor for the wealthy Park family's teenage daughter, Da-hye.

Once Ki-woo is hired, the rest of the Kims successively pose as sophisticated skilled workers, unrelated to each other, and integrate themselves into the lives of the Parks: Ki-woo begins a romantic relationship with Da-hye; Ki-jeong poses as an art therapist and is hired to teach their son, Da-song; Ki-taek is hired as a chauffeur after Mr. Park's driver is fired when Ki-jeong frames him for having sex in the car; and Chung-sook is hired to replace the current housekeeper, Moon-gwang, after the Kims exploit her allergy to peaches, claiming that she has tuberculosis.

When the Parks leave on a camping trip, the Kims occupy the mansion, revelling in its luxuries. That night, Moon-gwang returns, claiming that she left something in the basement. She opens a secret bunker, revealing that her husband, Geun-sae, has lived there for years to hide from loan sharks. As she begs Chung-sook to keep their secret, the eavesdropping Kims accidentally stumble into view. Moon-gwang threatens to expose their scam after realizing they are a family, leading to a fight.

The Parks suddenly call, informing Chung-sook that heavy rain has ruined the trip and that they are arriving home shortly. The Kims force Geun-sae and Moon-gwang into the bunker; Moon-gwang is kicked down the stairs by Chung-sook and suffers an eventually fatal head injury. When the Parks return, Mrs. Park tells Chung-sook that her son was traumatized years earlier by seeing a "ghost" emerge from the basement: Geun-sae. With the other three Kims hiding nearby, Mr. Park complains to his wife that while Ki-taek is a competent driver, he smells bad. The three Kims escape the mansion undetected, but find their apartment flooded by sewage water driven by the rain. They spend the night in a local gym, along with hundreds of others driven out by the rain.

The following day, Mrs. Park throws a birthday party for Da-song and invites the staff. Ki-woo returns to the bunker with the scholar's rock but is ambushed by Geun-sae, who hits him over the head with the rock. Geun-sae escapes the bunker and rushes into the party, stabbing Ki-jeong. Geun-sae's sudden appearance triggers Da-song's traumatic memory, causing a seizure. As Ki-taek rushes to help Ki-jeong, Mr. Park yells at him to drive Da-song to the hospital. Ki-taek throws him the car keys, which land under the struggling Chung-sook and Geun-sae. Chung-sook manages to kill Geun-sae with a meat skewer. As Mr. Park retrieves the keys, he recoils from Geun-sae's smell. Ki-taek, witnessing Mr. Park's reaction to the smell, fatally stabs Mr. Park before fleeing.

Weeks later, Ki-woo awakens from a coma and is sentenced, along with Chung-sook, to probation for fraud; Ki-jeong has died from her wound. Geun-sae’s motive and the whereabouts of Ki-taek, who is wanted for Mr. Park's murder, are unknown. While watching the Parks' recently sold mansion, Ki-woo notices a light flickering in Morse code – a SKATS message from Ki-taek, who now lives in the bunker. Ki-woo vows to one day earn enough money to purchase the mansion and free his father. The song that plays over the credits explains that in order to do this, Ki-woo will have to work every day for over 500 years.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

The idea for Parasite originated in 2013. While working on Snowpiercer, Bong was encouraged by a theater actor friend to write a play. He had been a tutor for the son of a wealthy family in Seoul in his early 20s, and considered turning his experience into a stage production.[13] After completing Snowpiercer, Bong wrote a 15-page film treatment for the first half of Parasite, which his production assistant on Snowpiercer, Han Jin-won, turned into three different drafts of the screenplay.[13] After finishing Okja, Bong returned to the project and finished the script; Han received credit as a co-writer.[13]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography for Parasite began on 18 May 2018[14][15] and ended 77 days later on 19 September 2018.[16] Filming took place around Seoul and in Jeonju.[17]

The Parks' house, said in the film to be designed by a fictional architect named Namgoong Hyeonja, was an entirely newly-built set.[18] Production designer Lee Ha-jun said the sun was an important factor with building the outdoor set. "The sun's direction was a crucial point of consideration while we were searching for outdoor lots," explained Lee. "We had to remember the sun's position during our desired time frame and determine the positions and sizes of the windows accordingly. In terms of practical lighting, the DP [director of photography Hong Kyung-pyo] had specific requests regarding the color. He wanted sophisticated indirect lighting and the warmth from tungsten light sources. Before building the set, the DP and I visited the lot several times to check the sun’s movement at each time, and we decided on the set's location together."[19]

"Since Mr. Park's house is built by an architect in the story, it wasn't easy finding the right approach to designing the house," he added. "I'm not an architect, and I think there's a difference in how an architect envisions a space and how a production designer does. We prioritize blocking and camera angles while architects build spaces for people to actually live in and thus design around people. So I think the approach is very different."[19]

According to editor Jinmo Yang, Bong Joon-Ho chose to shoot the film without traditional coverage. To give them more editing options with limited shots, they sometimes stitched together different takes of the same shot.[20]

Release[edit]

Director and stars at an April 2019 press event.

The film had its world premiere at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival on 21 May.[21] It was released in South Korea on 30 May 2019.[5][16]

Neon acquired the Northern American rights to the film at the 2018 American Film Market.[22][23] The film's rights were also pre-sold to German-speaking territories (Koch Films), French-speaking territories (The Jokers) and Japan (Bitters End).[24]

It was released in Australia and New Zealand by Madman Films on 27 June 2019[25] (becoming both the highest-ever-grossing Korean film in the region[26] and the distributor's highest-ever-grossing non-English language film in Australia),[27] Russia on 4 July 2019, and in the United States and Canada on 11 October 2019.[28]

The film was originally scheduled to be screened as a closing film at FIRST International Film Festival Xining in China on 28 July 2019, but on 27 July, the film festival organizers announced that the screening was cancelled for "technical reasons."[29]

It was licensed for the United Kingdom and Ireland by Curzon Artificial Eye at Cannes, and will have preview screenings with an interview with Bong Joon-ho shared live by satellite on 3 February 2020, followed by the film's general release on 7 February.[30]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

As of 20 January 2020, Parasite has grossed $28.2 million in the United States and Canada, and $111.2 million in other territories (including $73 million from South Korea), for a worldwide total of $139.4 million.[8]

In the film's United States opening weekend, the film grossed $376,264 from three theaters. Its per-venue average of $125,421 was the best since La La Land's in 2016, and the best-ever for a foreign-language film.[31] It expanded to 33 theaters in its second weekend, making $1.24 million,[32] and then made $1.8 million from 129 theaters in its third.[33] The film made $2.5 million in its fourth weekend and $2.6 million in its fifth.[34] The film's theater count peaked in its sixth weekend at 620, when it made $1.9 million.[35] It continued to hold well in the following weekends, making $1.3 million and $1 million.[36][37] In its tenth week of release the film crossed the $20 million mark (rare for a foreign-language film), making $632,500 from 306 theaters.[38]

The film grossed US$20.7 million in its opening weekend in South Korea.[39]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 99% based on 353 reviews, with an average rating of 9.36/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "An urgent, brilliantly layered look at timely social themes, Parasite finds writer-director Bong Joon Ho in near-total command of his craft."[40] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 96 out of 100 based on reviews from 48 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[41]

Writing for the New York Times, A.O. Scott described the film as "wildly entertaining, the kind of smart, generous, aesthetically-energized movie that obliterates the tired distinctions between art films and popcorn movies."[42] Bilge Ebiri of NY Mag wrote that Parasite is "a work that is itself in a state of constant, agitated transformation—a nerve-racking masterpiece whose spell lingers long after its haunting final image."[43] In his five-star review of the film, Dave Calhoun of Time Out praised the social commentary and stated that "This is a dazzling work, surprising and fully gripping from beginning to end, full of big bangs and small wonders."[44] Variety's Jessica Kiang described the film as "a wild, wild ride," writing that "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."[45] The A.V. Club's A. A. Dowd gave the film an A−, praising the fun and surprising twists.[46] Joshua Rivera from GQ gave a glowing review and declared Parasite to be "Maybe 2019's best film" and further said, "It's so top-to-bottom satisfying that even being completely spoiled couldn't ruin it – but if you can come to it cold, you'll be floored."[47]

Top-ten lists[edit]

Parasite appeared on many critics' year-end top-ten lists,[48] among them:

Top 10 (not ranked)

Parasite also appeared on many critics' Best-of-the-decade top 10 lists,[9] among them:

Top 10 (not ranked)

On Metacritic, Parasite ranked 7th among the films with the highest scores of the decade.[9] As of 28 December 2019 it is the 42nd highest rated film of all time on the website.[155]

Accolades[edit]

Bong Joon-ho earned critical acclaim for his directing and was awarded the Palme d'Or

Parasite won the Palme d'Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. It was the first South Korean film to do so, as well as the first film to win with a unanimous vote since 2013's Blue Is the Warmest Colour.[156][157] At the 77th Golden Globe Awards, the film was nominated for three awards including Best Director and Best Screenplay, and won Best Foreign Language Film, becoming the first ever Korean film to achieve that feat.[158][159]

It was selected as the South Korean entry for Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards,[160][161] making the December shortlist.[162]

Parasite became the second foreign film to ever be nominated for Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture since the 1997 film, Life Is Beautiful. Also, it become the first foreign film to win Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.

It was nominated for four awards at the 73rd British Academy Film Awards: Best Film, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Not in the English Language. It is the first Korean film to receive nominations at the British Academy Film Awards (except for Best Film Not in the English Language).

Parasite is the first South Korean-made film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture at the upcoming 92nd Academy Awards.[163] It is also being nominated for Best Director, Best International Feature Film, Best Original Screenplay, Best Production Design, and Best Film Editing.[164]

Adaptation[edit]

An HBO limited series based on the film, with Bong and Adam McKay adapting and executively producing, is in early development.[165]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ (Tie) with Marriage Story.
  2. ^ (Tie) with Knives Out.

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