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Parasite’s ending makes it one of the all-time great lonely movies


When Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite made Oscar historical past as the primary non-English language movie to win Greatest Image, it felt like a victory for the cinephiles who made the movie a essential darling and a shock arthouse hit. After an extended theatrical run that constructed intensive phrase of mouth, Parasite is streaming completely on Hulu. Which implies it’s going out to tens of millions of viewers who will have the ability to be a part of the dialog about Parasite’s masterful ending — the definition of a film conclusion that may’t be summed up as a “completely happy ending” or a “unhappy ending.” As an alternative, it’s a lonely ending.

[Ed. observe: Important spoilers forward for Parasite, and for the films Moonlight and Drive.]

In Parasite’s climax, the Kim household — father Ki-taek, mom Chung-sook, daughter Ki-jeong, and son Ki-woo — attend a home get together for the younger son of their employers, the Park household. The occasion shortly goes south, breaking down right into a vivid illustration of sophistication warfare. The pictures that comply with launch the viewers from the movie’s constantly mounting stress, however depart some characters lifeless, and others to mourn. Within the aftermath, Ki-woo recovers, offers along with his grief, and copes with the authorities who’re nonetheless trying to find solutions about what occurred that day.

The viewers is aware of what Ki-woo quickly finds out. Ki-taek fled the get together for the one logical place he may go — the hidden bunker within the Park household home. From there, he makes use of Morse code to ship a letter to his son, although he by no means is aware of whether or not Ki-woo has seen it. Within the movie’s closing scene, Ki-woo responds to his father in a letter that performs out extra as fantasy than actuality. It’s his dreamy declaration of the capitalistic dream — he imagines himself going to highschool, making some huge cash, and shopping for the Park home so he can free his father.

Parasite’s final scene acts like a breakup with the viewers. The occasions all through the movie assemble a relationship with the viewers: we study concerning the characters over time, and construct an empathy for them, an emotionally intimate connection. When Ki-woo seems to be up from his letter on the finish, and tells his absent father, “So lengthy,” his pang of loneliness resonates completely with the viewers, who’re being launched from his firm in the identical approach.

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The probably final result of the story: Ki-woo by no means attains his aim, and his father lives out the remainder of his days in that bunker. It’s a picture-perfect final scene to shut out a gut-wrenching, masterful piece of cinema. Parasite’s ending works seamlessly with the occasions endured by its solid and the viewers. When Ki-woo’s reads his letter to his father, it’s clear what’s coming: the tip of the connection the movie has constructed, and a closing farewell to a narrative that’s been resolved thematically, however nonetheless left open-ended.

Photograph: Neon

There are different motion pictures with goodbyes as poignant because the one Bong crafts in Parasite. In Nicolas Winding Refn’s movie Drive, Ryan Gosling performs the function of the mysterious Driver, an knowledgeable getaway driver doubling as a stuntman by day. He will get caught up within the hassle surrounding his neighbor Irene, her son Benicio, and her husband, who owes the mob $40,000 he can’t pay. Out of sympathy to Irene, Driver gives to assist, however after the scenario is resolved, he isn’t ready to stick with her and proceed constructing their relationship. The ultimate scene depicts him driving into the night time, with the faintest trace of tears welling up in his eyes. The Driver is neither good nor dangerous, impartial nor noteworthy; he’s simply passing by. Refn gives a romantically tinged scene of unrequited love. The film isn’t concerning the crimes dedicated, it’s concerning the fleeting connection between Driver and Irene, and what they may have had collectively. The movie’s closing scene is about letting that risk go, leaving each of them lonely, and conveying their loneliness on to the viewers as effectively.

2016’s Greatest Image Oscar-winner, Berry Jenkins’ Moonlight, positions its final scene in an analogous approach. The story main as much as it does the emotional heavy lifting, so the final scene is only a reminder that brings all of it again residence. The movie chronicles three phases within the lifetime of its central character, Chiron, from being a shy, withdrawn little one mentored by a sympathetic drug vendor to turning into a vendor himself, full with a troublesome, street-smart exterior. Moonlight’s final scene is as dreamy as Drive’s. A flashback reveals Chiron as a child on the seashore, draped in moonlight. He turns and faces the digital camera, a flicker in his eye. He’s constructed up a persona that’s let him survive abuse, poisonous masculinity, and trauma, and he’s led an emotionally repressed life, however the movie culminates with him re-connecting along with his past love. And the ultimate moments are a reminder that Chiron’s youth and innocence haven’t been misplaced, simply hidden, and ready for a secure second to emerge. It’s bittersweet, however nonetheless lonely, as a result of it’s a second the place the door closes on the movie’s world, simply as that world was beginning to open up into one thing heat and comforting.

It’s normally assumed {that a} movie’s ending has to comply with the emotional binary of completely happy or unhappy. However not each ending matches in such neat little packages. And limiting our dialog about endings to 1 aspect or the opposite dampens the emotional complexity of our cinematic experiences. Parasite’s ending, very similar to Drive’s or Moonlight’s, conjures up the important loneliness that their characters are enduring, and leaves the viewers to sit down with these emotions. And within the course of, they categorical the emotional energy of loneliness itself. Particularly now, amid social distancing and the coronavirus pandemic, many individuals are fighting these emotions. Movies like Parasite really feel cathartic within the second as a result of they’re a reminder that even once we really feel most alone, we’re sharing that feeling with different individuals. Even the loneliest individuals aren’t experiencing one thing distinctive — of their isolation, they’re connecting with different individuals feeling the identical factor.

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