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Exploration of Melancholia and Love  

This adaptation of the novel of the same name by Sugaru Miaki is equal parts science fiction and philosophy.

Published: 20th March 2022 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th March 2022 05:24 PM   |  A+A-

Image used for representational purpose only. ( File Photo)

Image used for representational purpose only. ( File Photo)

Loneliness is a compelling emotion to capture in cinema. This melancholic mood is depicted with a twist in the new Japanese Netflix film Parasite in Love. This adaptation of the novel of the same name by Sugaru Miaki is equal parts science fiction and philosophy.

Two lonely individuals—Kengo Kosaka (Hayashi Kento) and Hijiri Sanagi (Komatsu Nana)—who have chosen to disconnect from society find solace in each other’s company unexpectedly. Everything that causes them heartbreak and disappointment disappears in the face of each other’s company, but they learn, to their disappointment, that their feelings are not their doing. It is the result of a parasite that lives in their head!

You see, Kengo suffers from extreme mysophobia that forces him to repeatedly wash and scrub his hands. He stays away from everyone and is a true hermit, preferring to stay in solitude, and finding peace and comfort in his space.

On the other hand, Hijiri suffers from scopophobia, a condition that causes her fear of being stared at. She tunes people out and uses music to armour herself. Slowly, the film familiarises you with their struggle, the discomfort, and the ensuing isolation. And then, of course, they cross paths…

The disruption in Kengo’s world is portrayed with electric music. Hijiri disrupts his otherwise peaceful life and breaks through all the boundaries that he has taken time and effort to put in place. The disruption soon turns into a meditative trance. This attraction is influenced by a ‘worm’ that lives in their head. Hijiri’s mother Maya also had this ‘worm’ before she died by suicide and Hijiri’s grandfather Yuichi has instilled this belief in her that the worm caused her mother’s death in the past. As I said, there’s quite a bit of science-fiction at play here.

Parasite in Love is slow-paced and takes its time to get you used to the idea of a worm’s existence in a person’s head. The film is dialogue-heavy, and it does come in the way of the film’s efficiency. The end interaction between Kengo and Hijiri, for perhaps this reason, does not quite create the desired impact.

Also, the last act loses direction because of the haphazard use of background scores. In the beginning, the sudden music interruptions make sense, as they symbolise disruption, but as the plot unravels, it feels quite arbitrary.

However, the color-graded visuals by Kateb Habib do a great job of communicating the film’s mood. Even in love, Kengo and Hijiri continue to express how suffocating the feeling can be, and these craft choices come in handy to reflect that. In a nutshell, the film is the manifestation of one of John Steinbeck’s most-popular lines: “All great and precious things are lonely.”                                

—Priyanka Sundar

Parasite in Love

  • Director: Kensaku Kakimoto
  • Genre: Romance
  • Platform: Netflix
  • Language: Japanese
  • Rating: 2.5/5 


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