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(South Korea): The Kim family lives in a basement apartment and struggles to make ends meet by folding pizza boxes (something so simple that they cannot seem to do right); the family is destitute but otherwise happy. The son Ki-woo lands a job as an English tutor for the daughter in the uber-wealthy Kim family, and through a series of schemes, the entire family is working there. Everything runs smoothly until one of the displaced servants shows up unexpectedly when the Kim family is away on a camping trip. The movie is fantastic; the performances by all are great, but what most stands out for me are the screenplay and the staging of the scenes. The screenplay is sharply written; the dialog is tight, incredibly funny, and dark at the same time. One of the things I liked about Snowpiercer, his previous film, is its take on class and class difference; the director elevates this to a new high in this film, where the differences become more and more apparent as the film progresses. The scenes are shot in a way that accentuates the disparateness of the two worlds reflected by the families. I cannot recall a film where I was so aware, in nearly every scene, the magnitude of the differences in how the rich and the poor live and experience life. The film is full of surprises; you are carried along with one expectation, then the next scene does something that jerks you into a different emotional reality. When the former servant arrives, you are yanked from what starts off as a hilarious social satire into a whole different world that is oddly funny, much, much darker, and yet even sharper in its message about class differences. Huge thumbs up for a film that combines social satire, dark humor, and elements of the best horror/thriller movies into one amazing piece of filmmaking. This is definitely my favorite movie of the year so far. (2019; 5 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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