Bong Joon-ho's New Film Gets Ecstatic Reception at Cannes Festival

  • By Song Hye-jin

    May 23, 2019 11:09

    Director Bong Joon-ho's latest film "Parasite" had its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday night. The 2,000-strong audience at the Grand Theatre Lumiere was gripped by the satirical black comedy, giving the director and cast a nine-minute standing ovation when it finished.

    Hollywood actress Tilda Swinton, a friend of the director who appeared in his films "Snowpiercer" and "Okja," was among those leading the applause. Cast members Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Jo Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Jang Hye-jin and Lee Jung-eun were clearly overwhelmed by the response.

    Director Bong Joon-ho and actors Lee Sun-kyun, Jo Yeo-jeong and Lee Jung-eun (from right) react to an ovation from the audience after a screening of the film "Parasite" at the Cannes Film Festival in France on Tuesday. /Courtesy of CJ Entertainment

    The premise of "Parasite" is simpler than those of Bong's previous works such as "The Host" and "Mother." The film revolves around a bizarre encounter between two families from opposite social classes when the son from a poor family scams his way into a tutoring job in a wealthy family.

    "Parasite" is similar to "Snowpiercer" in Bong's use of starkly contrasting spaces, as well as water and light imagery, to discuss the issue of class. Somewhat disappointingly, the film lacks the symbolic depth that would allow for multiple interpretations, opting instead to have characters explicitly deliver the film's key messages through dialogue. Nonetheless, "Parasite" is nothing less than a masterpiece that escapes being categorized in any one genre with so many twists.

    A critic for online magazine IndieWire commented, "The giddy, brilliant, and totally unclassifiable 'Parasite' proves that Bong Joon-ho has become a genre unto himself," while British daily the Guardian wrote, "'Parasite' gets its tendrils into you."

    Of the 21 films in the official competition at Cannes, 15 were unveiled as of Tuesday night, and only a handful of them including "Pain and Glory" by Pedro Almodovar have generated hype despite the inclusion of films by big names like Ken Loach, Jim Jarmusch and Terrence Malick.

    Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" was screened on the same night as "Parasite" amid much interest, but it seems it was overshadowed by "Parasite."

    Some critics have pointed out that "Parasite" appeals to Cannes' tendency to favor movies that address social issues. French newspaper Le Monde praised Bong as a filmmaker who, more than a mere stylist, is capable of blending political and social metaphors in his movies.

    The winners of this year's festival will be announced on Saturday as it closes its run, which started on May 14.

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