“With No plan – Nothing can go wrong”.
To call this film different or even original would be an absolute understatement.
Traditionally foreign language films are delegated to a short run art-house release or hidden amongst the selections in a film festival. But this critically acclaimed little gem from Korean director Bong Joon-ho is proving to be an exception to the norm.
Released in Australia on June 26th last year it barely caused a beep on the radar. Gradually it has earned the prestige of being the highest-grossing Korean film in Australia. Most recently it has enjoyed a resurgence of interest mainly due to being nominated in six Oscar categories.
If it manages to win Best Picture, Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Original Screenplay (two nominations), Best Production Design (two nominations) or the Best Film Editing award, it could very well be around for quite a while longer.
At first, it appears to be a little bland as it mundanely introduces us to the impoverished Kim family who, in their basement-dwelling are pilfering internet time from their neighbours. All four family members are out of work and their future looks very bleak. When the son, Ki-woo, who now decides to go by the name of Kevin, is offered a position tutoring English to the daughter of a ‘stinking’ rich couple, Mr and Mrs Park, it is here a scam or should I say scams begin.
Armed with a University degree forged by his sister, he instantly wins the mother’s confidence. By the time his interview is over he has, without revealing they are siblings, convinced Mrs Park that his sister, Ki-jeong, who now prefers to be known as Jessica is ideal for the position as an art teacher to her son,
Jessica then wastes no time setting up a sex scandal implicating the family chauffeur. When he is dismissed, Jessica suggests a man who is an experience Mercedes driver. Of course, the man is her father, Ki-taek, who now has to visit car dealerships to test drive a Mercedes before he takes up the position.
With three members of the Kim family now employed by the Park’s they launch a ‘peachy’ little scheme to convince Mrs Park that the housekeeper has tuberculosis. After the housekeeper is sacked, Mrs Kim is hired to replace her.
With all four unethical members of the Kim family now working for the self-absorbed Park family the story gets both nutty and sinister. The relationship between the two socio-economically different families is void of any real compassion, yet, at times, they are uncharacteristically honest and complimentary about each other.
Set in both the depressing slums and the extremely wealthy neighbourhoods of Korea this tale has poverty, wealth, desperation, blatant lies, a couple of home truths, opportunity, scheming, acceptance, manipulation, an unexpected deep secret and a few reactions that have dire consequences.
This dark comedy thriller is skilfully written with several unpredictable original twists that ultimately affect the futures of both families. It uses gullibility and naivety to present the difference between the desperately poor and carefree wealthy.
Although they are all quite likable in a self-centred kind of way their vastly different and questionable moral values, eventually reveals a disturbing and revengeful side of a couple of the characters.
Don’t let the task of reading subtitles prevent you from seeing this highly entertaining little masterpiece. It is well worth the effort of speed reading.
Written By Sean J O’Kelly
Concept Photo Design By Beata Gombas
Click the link below to view the trailer