Bong Joon-ho’s Palme d’Or-winning satire is easily the South Korean writer-director’s best film since Memories of Murder (2003), exhibiting the earlier film’s formal control and mounting suspense while incorporating the trenchant insights into class conflict he displayed in Snowpiercer (2013). The members of a poor family that manipulates the system in order to live by barely working scam their way, one by one, into servant jobs for a wealthy family that remains blind to the others’ machinations as long as they don’t disrupt their own lazy lifestyle. The film is unsubtle in its commentary on contemporary society’s concentration of wealth in the hands of a few; however, Bong complicates the satire with a dark second-act revelation that points to how our unjust economy forces the bottom portion of society to fight (in this case literally) over dwindling resources. Throughout, the director’s camerawork and mise en scene are impressively subtle, carefully parsing out information about characters and setting to force viewers to stay alert to the tiniest details. In Korean with subtitles.
By Ben Sachs