Telluride Film Review: ‘Parasite’ Works In Perfect Synchrony With Story and Bliss

2019 TELLURIDE FILM FESTIVAL: The imagination and mind of renowned director Bong Joon-ho have fluttered around our cinematic universe for years with inventive and original creations. From his creative genius has birthed the magnificent “Parasite,” a twisted, hilarious, and moving mystery with the year’s most engrossing story. Unpredictable and incredibly rich, Joon-ho’s assured direction, partnered with his passionate and mesmerizing ensemble, “Parasite” emerges as one of the year’s most vital and entertaining pieces of filmmaking, perhaps one of the most lively to bookend the decade.

With the fear of ruining any element of the film, simply stated, “Parasite” tells the story of the Ki-taek family, all of whom are unemployed, and who take a peculiar interest in the wealthy and glamorous Park family, before unexpected and surprising incidents occur.

Film and creative writing classes should study the process of writers and directors like Bong Joon-ho. In the same artistic bloodstream that is shared with such indelible screenwriters as Charlie Kaufman or Spike Jonze, we ask ourselves, “how did he come up that concept?” His filmography leading to this point, which has included enjoyable features such as “Mother,” “Snowpiercer,” and “Okja,” all feel entirely distinguishable from one another. He never takes water from the same well. Recreating the structure of his stories with dynamic and engaging characters, “Parasite” boasts a family that is both bizarre and utterly relatable, even if separated from the viewer by language and culture.

That the entire ensemble is—if living in a just world—a frontrunner for the prestigious SAG Ensemble award, is wholly exquisite. With South Korean megastar Song Kang-ho taking the reigns and turning in one of the best performances of his already illustrious career, it will be not only an exciting year to witness an actor of his stature receive a deserved citation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, but also display a diverse and enamoring choice in the Best Supporting Actor lineup; a lineup that hasn’t an Asian acting nominee since 2003’s Ken Watanabe in “The Last Samurai.”  It’s long overdue.

Equally striking and beautifully orchestrated is the work of Jo Yeo-jeong as the comical and sweet Yeon-kyo Park and Choi Woo-sik as the charismatic and curious-eyed Ki-woo.  Both are dutifully committed to their roles, inserting their own ticks and beats of character development that make them even more authentic and accessible.

All of Bong Joon-ho’s films are molded together with a technical proficiency that raises the level for directors everywhere. In this instance, production design, cinematography, sound editing, and film editing are at the forefront of its greatest achievements. It propels South Korean cinema onto the international stage and gives the deepened purpose and reasoning for every American to seek out films NOT playing at a theater near them.

At the end of a five-film watching day, with the heavy eyes of a film critic at 11 o’clock at night in the Telluride mountains, this reviewer was awakened by the film’s pure storytelling magic. Emerging from the theater, you can feel more alive than you’ve felt in years. It’s the type of film that packs a cinematic punch, one that left this reviewer reacting with this simple thought: “Parasite…once a day, every day, for the rest of my life. I’ll start my day this way.”

Parasite” is a fulfilling and rewarding experience, not to be missed.

“Parasite” is distributed by NEON and opens in theaters on Oct. 11 in limited release, with an expanded platform to follow.

GRADE: (★★★★)