This movie is definitely a masterpiece sprinkled with darkly playful intelligence that can’t be pinned to one genera. Bong Joon-ho (the director) does a fantastic job keeping an air of uncertainty while slowly revealing the true colors of the characters. Vertical space is the key element used to reference class and lifestyle. The film centers around two families living in extreme ends of the social ladder in South Korea. The poor family lives in a sub-basement while the rich family lives on the top of a hill in a tall house. The plot challenges the viewers to ask themselves, what is true wealth? This is a very dark and complex drama that touches upon life perception from poverty and wealth extremes. It is also a careful examination of growing class tensions in modern society, a story about inequality told like never before.
Although it would seem like the poor people act as parasites of the rich, it is unclear who the parasite is. This is one of the crucial questions of the film, in a late capitalist society, who is the actual parasite? This is best explained by the use of two concepts: ‘Cool Capitalism’ and ‘Cultural Hegemony’ as by Jim McGuigan. He states that “neoliberal capitalism has constructed popular legitimacy of such resilient kind that it goes beyond management, ideology and propaganda into the texture and common sense of every day life…” To support this idea, he uses the example of Apple products, which despite their sleek and shiny nature, are built in slave factories that have horrible working conditions. What McGuigan is trying to convey, is the disconnect that capitalism creates between consumers and the way people’s lives across the globe were affected to create these products, the suffering, the conditions, their labor. This is precisely, how the rich family interacts with the poor family, completely oblivious of the burden they put on their backs, simply enjoying the fruits of other people’s labor while trying to completely separate themselves from the struggle of the ‘lower class’ that they are responsible for creating and perpetuating.
The protagonist, a poor uneducated Korean teen, gets a break when his friend (a college educated boy) offers him to tutor a young rich girl, while he is abroad. There, he finds that the people in the house are lonely and longing for acceptance. The mother of the rich girl seems clueless and simple, but is she? At first she appears to be gullible, but as the family of the protagonist becomes more dependent on the income she provides, her and her husband show who they really are and why they are so lonely. Despite the unpleasant finds, the poor family decide to continue the charade, until they make a startling discovery. How far is too far for a lie? As they try to escape their moral dilemma, the poor family gets back to their home only to discover that they are in deep shit.
This is the sad story of a lad trying to survive while taking responsibility for the financial future of his family after his parents completely gave up.
Although it makes me wonder why his friend offered him the job in the first place…
What did you think of this movie? Leave your comments below 🙂