Thank God it is Friday!! And while you maybe expecting reviews of Street Dancer and Panga(they are lined up), I happened to watch this South Korean film yesterday, nominated for the Academy Awards this year in the ‘Best Picture’ category. What starts off as a comedy, soon turns into a twisted tale with a tragic end. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD so if you havn’t watched the film, I recommend you stop right here, skip the points and go to the end of my review(or even better watch the film and return for some interesting analysis). So here we go!!
1) Up and Down – When the movie begins, we are introduced to the family of Ki-Taek(Mr Kim) who hail from a humble background. Notice the camera which pans almost from a semi basement. Cut to the family of Mr Park, who are rich and have a bunglow to their name with a lawn, probably being at a highest place in town. Just to resemble the lower and upper caste respectively! This movie is an ugly representation of our society and the director leaves no stone unturned even with his subtle symbolisms!
2) “Line” – In several instances in the movie, Mr Park while talking to Mr Kim refers to doing everything but not crossing the ‘line’. Here there exists an imaginary line, a line that cannot be seen yet is so prominent in our society which divides the rich from the poor. One of the scenes when Mr Park almost holds his nose(a smell that he refers to as adding a rag to a raddish) which is emitted from Mr Kim(or people from the lower strata) despite him bathing and washing his clothes everyday. Something that eventually triggers his resetment in the final bloodbath(which I will get to in a minute).
3) Rich depicted as Naive and oblivious – Pretty early on in the film, the director meticulously uses climate to depict capitalism. Mr Kim living in a semi basement cannot get a view of the sun, whereas Mr Park, owning a private lawn, enjoys it almost single handedly. Cut to the scene where a certain torrential rainfall almost wipes off Mr Kim’s home and the very next day once he resumes his duty, he overhears Mr Park’s wife say that the rain almost wiped off the pollution and made their day better and clearer, oblivious of the fact that Mr Kim had to take shelter in a gym! Also in a scene, Mr Park’s wife believes everything bad that she is told about her staff(including an undergarment found in her car which was supposedly planted by Mr Kim’s daughter).
4) Poor lack unity – In a scene, the earlier caretaker visits the bunglow to meet her husband who is hidden for four years in the basement of the bunglow. And that incident leads to a fight between her and the family of Mr Kim who now enjoy their time as the staff of Mr Park having cunningly ousted their earlier staff. A fight which only resulted in a bloodbath finale, began as a lack of unity between the poor, and for short term gains which is reflective of the labour class who work for the rich. While the rich don’t get their hands dirty, the labour class have to fight it out for certain gains!
5) Eventual bloodbath and the ending – Alot of people might question why did My Kim kill Mr Park in the pre climax scene. Well the director could have easily picked a side, that of a hero, and the audience would have rooted for him. Instead, he actually depicts the ugly reality, which takes me back to point # 1 and especially 2. While the caretaker’s husband, citing revenge for the death of his wife, goes all out and stabs Mr Kim’s daughter, Mr Park’s son faints. And in the very next moment, Mr Park calls our Mr Kim for the keys of his Merc despite his daughter dying in front of him. Mr Kim’s resetment is known in a scene prior to this. And when while dying the caretaker’s husband looks up to Mr Park and gives his respect, My Park just turns his face away with his hands on his nose, all hell breaks lose and My Kim stabs him! Often people from lower strata look upto/aspire to be the people of upper strata, but the latter just look away almost in disgust! Which brings me to my last point, the ending, wherein Mr Kim is trapped in the secret basement of the bunglow(even lower than his own house, as in point #1). And it is his son that wants to buy the house so that his father can just walk ‘up’ the basement. Sadly, a song plays in the background that it will take 564 years for him to do so! Clearly no happy endings here!
Besides technically this film is majestic. Excellent cinematography, layered story telling, the deeper you dive in it, the more you unravel. The director hasn’t taken sides by depicting the rich as rude and poor that require sympathy. Neither is this a comedy heist gone wrong sort of a film. Which is what makes it special as you begin to question who is the real parasite! This movie can be watched on Amazon Prime. Please do watch it for it is possibly the best movie that I have watched in sometime now. Many more nuances to mention but this is all the space that I have. Hope you enjoyed this analysis!