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Gisaengchung

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The Kim family live in the gutter and breathe in the urine smell coming from the public urinators from the bar next door. They celebrate with beer after finding new open wi-fi network, even if they can only get reception on the toilet while bent over: it‘s the reconquest of the internet. The Kims stink, they eat like pigs, they stick together like glue, they steal, lie, and cheat. But they can disguise themselves. Then they look like well-behaved, God-fearing citizens from next door. Until no one is watching.

Bong Joon-ho‘s Cannes winner PARASITE is a film about the bourgeoisie‘s worst nightmare. Its working-class family seems to be merged with trash, but they creep into the life of beauty, goodness, and cultivated elegance. A friend of the son, Ki-woo, offers him a tutoring job for the teenage daughter of the well-off Park family. Ki-woo transforms into a middle-class charmer and introduces himself to the good and very naive lady of the house who is immediately taken by the friendly pseudo-student. The Park house is an architectural wonder, a dream of nonchalant elegance, the biggest contrast to the Kim‘s basement. But fear is living with them, especially the fear that the children won‘t develop as optimally as they would like. Ki-woo quickly figures out the family‘s weakness and brings his little sister to tutor the small son in drawing. He‘s the only one who is suspicious, because the Kims drag the same smell into the house. Bong Jong-hoo‘s Cannes winner is a dark, absurd, funny, and thrilling class warfare satire that is told from the Kim‘s perspective but never sets up the rich Parks as the villains. Bong has always had an affinity for the earth‘s damned. In his monster film THE HOST, a dysfunctional family knows how to escape the creature in the gutter, in SNOWPIERCER a revolution almost succeeds, and in the children‘s film OKJA a huge pig is saved from the meat industry. But the Kim family is more ambivalent and dangerous than the characters from his previous films. Their stoic dignity only becomes clear towards the end of the film, but there are quite a few surprises till then.

Tom Dorow (indiekino)

Translation: Elinor Lewy

Credits

Original title: Gisaengchung
ROK 2019, 132 min
Genre: Black Comedy
Director: Joon Ho Bong
Author: Joon Ho Bong, Dae-hwan Kim
Distributor: KOCH FILMS
Cast: Kang-ho Song, Sunkyun Lee, Yeo-Jeong Cho
FSK: 16
Release: 13.02.2020

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