They’re feeding on my mind
‘Parasite’ is a superb film about class, but very loud-sounding in parts at our Barbican screening.
Maybe the discomfort is intentional.
My wife Jane didn’t mind the loudness, as it drowned out the noise of antisocial cinemagoers rustling sweet wrappers.
Some people have no idea how to watch films these days. Scumbags.
Silence, yes. Kebabs, no.
I understand that a black-and-white version of this film was shown recently at the Rotterdam Film Festival.
That would be one worth seeing… in silence.
I must ask Posy if she saw it. She was at the festival with one of her own films.
The wordplay at the heart of the title ‘Parasite’ actually runs rampant around the whole of the film’s body.
It starts with a scene featuring “stink bugs”.
It goes on to show wealthy and poor families feeding off one another (and on each other from within).
In the first scene, the stink bugs are killed by a team of fumigators.
That tells you an awful lot about this masterful movie in a short space of time.
Divisions and separations are the symbolic drivers of the story.
The poor people scrabble and fester in slummy inner-city basements.
The rich people move freely in lush and landscaped open spaces designed by the world’s best architects.
The rich people claim to be able to smell the stink of the poor people.
This reminds me of when I worked in a Liverpool menswear shop in my early 20s, having failed to gain a foot on any career ladder.
One of my coworkers, Karen, from Bootle, claimed to be able to smell poor children.
She said they smelled of margarine and called them “Margarine Kids”.
In ‘Parasite’ the rich people say the poor people smell of old radishes or dirty dishcloths.
In the film divisions and separations thread, lace and ooze.
There is the division/separation between North and South Korea, both geographically and politically.
There is the division/separation of the West and the East, both geographically and politically.
South Korea is depicted as very westernised.
The poor people hunt for a free bit if wi-fi to connect to WhatsApp.
Wages are systematically docked by hard-nose, callous employers.
The educated and the non-educated; the professionally qualified and the street-smart self-starter on the make. Light and dark, wet and dry; divisions and separations are all over the place.
The contrasts and comparisons are always very powerful but not dominant. They slip into the story organically, like a parasite.
Above all this is a rip-roaring tragi-comic story. Its grip is intense.
And just the hilarious farcical fun of the early part of the movie was starting to wear thin, plot twists worm in and spin it on to more serious ground, where the shade is a lot darker.
But the most subtle and clever division/separation is the one between reality and fantasy, the real world and the dream world.
It’s between the truth that plays out in front of your eyes and what you choose to ‘see’ and believe. Where you put your faith.
That motif does not depart as the final credits role.
It is the thing you’ll take home with you. It will live in your mind and eat away at you for some time yet.
Maybe that’s what the title ‘Parasite’ is really all about.