Original Title- Gisaengchung
Kang-ho Song, Sun-kyun Lee, Yeo-jeong Jo, Woo-sik Choi, Hye-jin Jang, So-dam Park, Ji-so Jung,
Kim Ki-woo (Woo-sik Choi) is a smart but unmotivated college-age man. He lives in squalor with his father Kim Ki-taek (Kang-ho Song), mother Kim Chung-sook (Hye-jin Jang), and his sister Kim Ki-jung (So-dam Park). They are all manipulative and lazy. Ki-woo fakes being a college student in order to teach English to the daughter of a very wealthy family (the Park family). He sees an opportunity to manipulate this family in order to get everything he ever wanted.
The movie was largely based on class hierarchy. One of my favorite images in the movie was the water movement during the storm. The Kim family is running home from the Park’s house after they were almost caught in their deception. During the scene, they are running down multiple flights of stairs in the rain. It feels as if they are descending into the “hole” they came from. The rain continues to get heavier and heavier. At the bottom of the last set of stairs it is starting to become clear that their basement apartment is flooding. They discover they have lost almost everything in their cramped apartment. At one point the daughter sits on the toilet to hold down the top while septic sewage spews through the lid. She smokes a cigarette as she is being covered with fecal material and flood water. She appears unfazed by her situation as if it has happened many times in the past. While this is happening, the Park family is safe in their clean, beautiful, spacious, and modern house that sits high up a hill.
Stereotypes are not always what they seem-
Lots of outward stereotypes are presented, but Bong Joon Ho shows us that behind the mask we all share some positive core values and at times the same flaws. The wealthy are always thought to have the perfect life when in reality life can be just as hard. Mrs. Parks is a lonely, isolated woman who is into drugs and at one point asks her husband to purchase some for her. The only time in the movie she seemed happy was when she was throwing an impromptu party where she could show off her “perfect” family and home. Mr. Parks admits to Ki-taek that he doesn’t actually love his wife and later in the movie makes it clear that despite seeming so virtuous and proper, underneath he desires to commit acts that he pretends to be disgusted by. Their son Park Da-song has nightmares from an early childhood traumatic experience and acts out secondary to a lack of rules and accountability. Their daughter Park Da-hye feels neglected and thinks she is second rate in the eyes of her parents. There is a scene where she asks her Mother why she is often overlooked. The poor stereotypes range from lazy and manipulative to unfortunate but yet hardworking and loving. The Kim family goes through all of the stereotypes. They start off as unmotivated but loving. They become aggressive and ruthless in their pursuit to manipulate the Park family which uncovers their true nature. This opportunistic overachieving ends up destroying not only their family but all of those associated with them.
This is a Korean film that was writen and directed by Bong Joon Ho who also brought us Snowpiercer. It has been a long time since I watched a film with English subtitles. I honestly am not sure how to describe this movie. It was AMAZING!!!!! This film won the Palme d’Or award at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. It absolutely deserved the honor! This is by far the best movie I have seen this year. It was suspenseful, shocking, completely far-fetched but yet somehow almost possible. You love the characters and yet are completely repulsed by them. Who are the bad guys and who are the good ones? My feelings flipped back and forth so many times I am not sure if any of them were good.
The script was wonderful. The editing was spot on.
Well done. There were some bloody scenes but nothing too over the top. The heavy rain/flooding scene was well done.
Should You Go See This Movie?
You would be a fool to miss this one!