IMDb Rating: 8.6/10
R | 2h 12min |Comedy, Drama |30 May 2019 (South Korea)
Metacritic: 96/100 “Must See”
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 99% Certified Fresh (Critic Reviews) | 90% Fresh (Audience)
Director: Bong Joon Ho
Writers: Bong Joon Ho, Jin Won Han
Stars: Kang-ho Song, Sun-Kyun Lee, Yeo-Jeong Jo
Movie Tagline: “Misplaced familyhood”
IMDb summary: Greed and class discrimination threaten the newly formed symbiotic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan.
There was so much hype surrounding this film that in retrospect, I think it somehow affected my experience the first time I watched it. I fell asleep. So there’s that. I don’t know why I didn’t find the film very engaging on the first watch. Which is why I was happy to revisit this film if only to understand why this movie had so much interest from almost everyone that watched it.
The most engaging aspect of this movie is the Kim family. They were all so enjoyable to watch. What really hit home hard for me was the effortless portrayal of an impoverished family; every single actor was on their “A-game” and I just couldn’t fault it. It was like watching a genuine family interacting with each other. Amazing chemistry.
And when you compare them to the Park family, it’s so obvious what makes this film so interesting. Even though the Kim family were destitute, they were so much better off in so many ways than the Park family. The Kim family loved each other. That was abundantly clear to me from the beginning. They had a very special bond; they cared for each other and worked together as a unit. The Park family in comparison were anything but a unit. Mrs Park seemed lonely – almost desperately so. She was looking for any interaction with someone other than her children and maid. To say that they didn’t love each other would be harsh because there is definitely love there for their children, especially the boy. To the Parks, everything revolved around their affluence. And the Kim’s exploited this flaw. The Park’s looked upon the world and everyone in it as just another thing to throw money at. Nothing had value until they put a dollar sign to it. And their children were no exception.
When you finally get to see the two families interacting with each other, it’s entertaining to see how each family affected the other. While the film takes a very dark turn near the end (which was almost inevitable), it is still mostly a comedy until that point. But I’d argue the fact that even the last scenes at the Park house had a tragic yet comedic feel to them; almost like a black comedy.
The winding down of the film towards the very end is, however, anything but humourous. The differences between the Kim and the Park families that were so obvious at the beginning of the film seemed a lot less obvious by the end. As the Kim’s became more and more obsessed with exploiting the Park family’s naivety and wealth, they slowly became consumed by this need. And well, the moral of this story is “take nothing for granted”. Karma has a funny way of turning around and suddenly biting you in the face.
Brilliant. That’s really all there is to say about this film – pure brilliance. Bong Joon Ho is both a writer and a director to be watched. Add him to your list of favourites. I’ll be looking at a lot more of his work because of this film being so damn good and watching his career with great interest.