Iím a little late to the party, but I finally saw Parasite. *spoiler alert*
It was intriguing, beautifully made, and highly disturbing. Itís use of genre-combining begs some questions—this allows the story teller to present one dimensional characters because it is a "comedy" and satirical, but then it switches conventions, morphing into deepest tragedy. Is it fair to present us with one dimensional characters in a film that is essentially tragic? Satire serves a purpose, by exaggerating flaws and tendencies/injustice within social conventions, in order to raise our awareness of these flaws/injustices.
Itís a fascinating experiment with genre, exhilarating and incredibly painful to watch.
The filmís most touching and heartbreaking moment occured when the father articulated his philosophy—there is no purpose in making a plan, because life has a way of crushing our plans and so itís just too painful to even try. Here is where the film hits a chord that is intimate, undeniable and universal.
The family we follow is incredibly cunning and resourceful, so how did it not occur to them that the family they work for would return early from camping due to rain? These are not lazy people—they outsmart others, so why the momentarily lapse in judgement? Seems out of character.
And the culmination was horrifying but the pivotal moments didnít feel true to the characters as established in the rest of the film. The homeowner holds his nose and has absolutely no interest in his son's dying tutor, even though she had previously been entrusted with his sonny her presence at the party was requested and valued.
Meanwhile, the man from the basement rushes the birthday party, creating a massacre, after years of communicating through Morris code with the birthday boy. Would someone with such dedication to reaching this boy then create a blood bath at his bday?
Potentially complex characters are reduced to the basest actions. Yes this creates a certain commentary about how the rich and the poor effect one , but is it transcendent? It has the heightened madness of a screwball comedy, but with raw/realistic violence and a painful social message that damns both sides.
The haunting and brutal dream-like vision will stay with me, but Iím uncertain that it deserved the record four oscars it received for the filmmaker (unprecedented best feature and best foreign film wins, in addition to best direction, and best screenplay), while films like the achingly brilliant, brave, and experimental Honeyboy were completely overlooked.
I agree with those celebrating the upside to these wins—welcoming Asian filmmaking into the West, championing the social message of this film, appreciating its unique artfulness.
But all considered, this quadruple win reinforces how truly irrelevant the Academy Awards are.
Iíve always thought how stupid it is to single out one film from a selection of excellent nominees, to say that it had better direction or a better editor.
Filmmaking is not a horse race.
Variations, experiments, and creative free-wheeling expression balanced with skill—this is where genius lives. Judging, comparing, pretending one film is somehow best when it is simply in the company of equally brilliant, moving, thought-provoking and beautiful filmsó is just antithetical to the creative process itself.
Not going to lie—while Parasite shocked & moved me, it wasn't my favorite film of last year, or any year.