×

Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Parasite’ Earns Five-Minute Cannes Ovation

Just days after the announcement of the selection of “Parasite” for main competition at the Cannes Film Festival, South Korean director Bong Joon-ho warned members of the local press not to expect his film to win the Palme d’Or. He also suggested that the film was “hyper-local” and possibly difficult for foreign audiences to understand.

Whether that was a case of false modesty or a genuine case of pre-presentation nerves, Bong has little to worry about, on the evidence of Tuesday night’s gala screening.

For more than five minutes after the lights went up, with the credits roll nearly completed, the audience in Cannes’ Grande Theatre Lumiere was on its feet clapping and cheering. That appreciation almost equaled the six-minute standing ovation accorded earlier in the day to Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

Bong received hugs from his cast, and one from friend Tilda Swinton, before bringing the late-night proceedings to a close. He grabbed a microphone, said “Thank you” in Korean and English, and then a simple “Let’s all go home.”

Despite Bong’s earlier warning, and a return to his native Korean after two English-language efforts, “Snowpiercer” and “Okja,” “Parasite” is a perfectly accessible drama about two families from opposite ends of the economic spectrum, and how one cunningly inserts itself into the other.

Popular on Variety

But “Parasite” being the work of one of Korea’s best-regarded filmmakers, that simple-sounding setup is the cue for multiple darker twists, social commentary, and bouts of comedic violence.

On at least two occasions, Tuesday night’s official screening was punctuated by rounds of spontaneous applause: one as a crescendo of dramatic dialogue was brought to a ringing conclusion, and another as a character appeared to get their rightful comeuppance. There is room, too, for a couple of smart North Korean jokes.

At his press event in Seoul in April, Bong suggested that his actors stood a better chance of Cannes recognition than the film as a whole. While the reliably rubbery Song Kang-ho, a veteran of Bong’s “Snowpiercer” and “The Host,” was by turns feckless, funny and fawning as the father of a broke crime family, “Parasite” is largely an ensemble piece. Picking individual winners would be difficult. Picking “Parasite” as a contender for some kind of Cannes reward would not be.

More Film

  • Nardjes A.

    ‘Invisible Life’s’ Karim Ainouz Drops Trailer for 'Nardjes A.’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    On Feb. 14 last year, Karim Aïnouz arrived in Algeria to trace via the story of his parents the Algerian Revolution which happened 60 years ago – its 1954-62 War of Independence from France. The uprising he very quickly started to shoot, however, was one happening right then, the Revolution of Smiles, whose first street [...]

  • Call of the Wild

    Harrison Ford in 'The Call of the Wild': Film Review

    Dogs, in their rambunctious domesticated way, can lead us overly civilized humans a step or two closer to the natural world. So it’s only fitting that the best dog movies have saluted that unruly canine spirit without a lot of artificial flavoring. Hollywood’s classic dog tales, like “Old Yeller” (1957) or “Lassie Come Home” (1943), [...]

  • Adventures of a Mathematician

    Indie Sales Unveils Trailer For 'Adventures of a Mathematician' (EXCLUSIVE)

    In the run up to Berlin’s European Film Market, Indie Sales has unveiled the trailer for Thor Klein’s “Adventures of a Mathematician” which had its world premiere in Palm Springs. The film tells the inspiring true story of a Polish-Jewish mathematician who got a fellowship at Harvard and went on to join the prestigious Manhattan [...]

  • Sonic (Ben Schwartz) in SONIC THE

    How Internet Backlash Helped 'Sonic the Hedgehog' Avoid Box Office Disaster

    It’s not a stretch to say Universal’s “Cats” and Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog” had two of the most polarizing movie trailers in recent memory. Both caught fire online for all the wrong reasons after fans on social media torched the questionable CGI. “Cats,” an adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, used a new science called [...]

  • Neumond Berlin Germany Restaurant

    Berlin Offers Diversity in Restaurant Scene

    Berlin Film Festival attendees have a chance to sample the diverse cuisine of a foodie city. Some of the top pics for a pre-film repast: Adana Grillhaus  A hugely popular Turkish restaurant in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, Adana Grillhaus now has a second location right around the corner. Manteuffelstr. 86 +49 30 6127790 Skalitzer Str. 105 [...]

  • my salinger year

    Berlin Festival's New Selection Committee Takes Off

    Berlin’s new seven-member selection committee — four women and three men — comprises the core of new director Carlo Chatrian’s programming staff, which is led Canadian critic Mark Peranson. Peranson was the Locarno Film Festival’s chief of programming when Chatrian headed that Swiss festival. This year, Berlin is opening with “My Salinger Year,” starring Sigourney [...]

  • Mariette Rissenbeek Berlin Film Festival Executive

    Mariette Rissenbeek Faces Challenges as Berlin Festival Executive Director

    Making her debut as the new executive director of the Berlin Film Festival this year, Mariette Rissenbeek is facing some big challenges after taking over management duties at one of the world’s biggest public film fests. Rissenbeek and new artistic director Carlo Chatrian succeed Dieter Kosslick, who left an indelible mark on the fest after [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content