* Following my 2nd viewing on a big screen this time and its recent Oscar-history-making win, here’s a revised version of a review I posted last year as part of my In-Flight Entertainment Review.
Bong Joon-Ho’s slow burning, indubitably Oscar-worthy film explores the subject of social classes in a meticulously calibrated (and metaphorical) manner and it’s one of the most original, daring and astonishing thing I’ve seen in the cinema in years. Heavily infused with social commentary and satire, yet subtle enough to avoid any preachiness, this is the story of two families: the unemployed Kims are the lower class who lives in a tiny, literally sub-street level, apartment while the wealthy, upper class Parks luxuriate in a huge modern designer house. When an opportunity arises for Kim’s son to tutor the Park’s daughter, the Kims begin an elaborate plan to infiltrate the Park family. Just as you think you are settling in for an invasion thriller, the film pivots into an unexpectedly revelatory and gripping middle section that plays out like a tense hide-and-seek heist and culminates in an exquisite finale so jaw-droppingly outrageous that it can only happen in a Korean film. Using every cinematic language available dextrously to deliver something complex and thought-provoking, its cinematography is awe-inspiring (and pops even more on the big screen) and every screen composition and production design is brimming with meaning and specific significance. Minor contrivances in the plotting aside, the cleverly constructed script not only juxtaposes well the manner the Kims connive to better themselves with the Parks’ obliviousness and inability to appreciate what they have, but refuses to give in to simple characterisations or resolutions. The Kims may be devious and ruthless but they are also aspirational and hard workers and good people at heart. Wickedly funny, tragically poignant, yet remaining positively hopeful, this entertaining and immensely (re)watchable film will overwhelm you with a myriad of emotions and thoughts and stays with you long after you left the cinema.