Director: Bong Joon-ho
Starring: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Jo Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-sik, Jang Hye-jin, Park So-dam
The Kim family is a lower socio-economic/bogan family sharing a grubby basement flat making whatever money they can from odd jobs such as folding pizza boxes. They still seem to be good and nothing about them says they are breaking the law to try and make money. It feels like you need to understand more about Korean society and culture to get the most out of this movie.
A telling scene is where the son says he failed the university entrance exam four times and the father says 500 university graduates turn up for a job opening as a security guard.
An opportunity presents itself for the son to get a tutor job for a rich family and once he gets the position he engineers ways to get the rest of his family into the house as an art therapy teacher, driver and finally housekeeper. Lies beget more lies and build until they meet someone with a bigger lie.
As usual Song Kang-ho is brilliant in this and I try to see him in every movie he is in even the ones not directed by Bong Joon-ho as he turns up in Park Chan-wook’s movies also.
The settings are really good also with the small flat the family lives in and the rich family’s house once owned by a famous architect. What the family does not know is that brilliant architects often have their own secrets and sometimes don’t tell them even when they sell the house.
It is the stated policy of the South Korean government that they want to make the best movies in the world with the aim of having a movie that eventually wins an Academy Award. There is a movie quota system in South Korea and local movies often beat Hollywood blockbusters on local release. Bong Joon-Ho stocked up on DVDs and Blurays when he was in Sydney for the film festival as most of the content delivery is online in South Korea.
If you are a social studies fan you will like this movie as the rich characters talk about people “not overstepping their boundary” and complain about the smell of people poorer than them. The son of Mr Park almost rumbles the entire scheme by saying they all smell the same.
I would not say this is Bon Joon-Ho’s best work as I still like the Host more even just for the part where Song Kang-Ho is crying so much he can’t run away. If this film gets more people to go back and watch the earlier work of the director I would support it.
I was perplexed as to the actions of some of the characters in the movie. I cannot think why Mr Kim would decide to do what he did. The scheme had already unravelled at that point and the extra action would not make any difference.