The basic pleasures of this fourth installment may be at once more hectic and more shopworn, but the film preserves, at least, the pathology of its series: that anxiety about finding meaning and your own place on the shelf.
For its first hour or so, Parasite is pure diabolical fun ... [Then it] shifts tonal gears in total service of its class politics, infecting the film’s breezy dark-comedy with notes of rage and melancholy.
There are times when The Souvenir has the buttoned-up, removed manner of a costume drama. Certainly, it can feel like a movie from a different era, though that’s partially because Hogg shot whole stretches of it on glorious, grainy 16mm.
Moss attacks the role with a fearless lack of vanity, daring to make this nosediving rock star not just unlikable but downright irritating — as hard to endure as chipped nails dragging slowly down a chalkboard.
The Beach Bum, by turn, seems to exist in the hazy headspace of its protagonist, a kindred spirit in less-than-lofty, party-till-you-puke ambition. But there’s a bummer relevance lurking in his fantasy of a rich idiot who does whatever he wants and faces no consequences for his actions.
This is an ugly, borderline vile piece of work. Thing is, it’s also been made with craft, wit, and a frankly exhilarating disregard for how films like this are supposed to operate, how they usually sound and move.
The early stretch of the movie is its strongest, as Johnson lays out the bric-a-brac of Bigger’s life, which involves a good deal of code-switching, and carefully tweaks the novel’s key relationships, updating the condescension of his employer’s rich-kid daughter, Mary (Margaret Qualley), to a new era of white guilt and microaggressions.
Dramatically speaking, it’s a failed thought experiment—you get, watching it, why no one has really told this kind of story in this way. But it’s still hard not to admire the film’s perversely un-perverse strategy, its good-faith attempt to do something more than simply trot out the awful, salacious details.