Posted June 26, 2017 by Chris Droney in Film Reviews
 
 

Okja Review


Not only does Okja comes along at just the right time, with a Netflix release, it comes along to a huge audience all at once. Bong Joon Ho’s last film, Snowpiercer, didn’t even get a release in the UK; his current offering will, overnight, hit 100 million subscribers.

The film had maybe not the best response at Cannes, but that was more a protest against it’s distributor, because Okja deserves all the applause. Somewhere between satire on the food industry and a Spielberg-esque monster film in the same vein as E.T., Bong has delivered Netflix it’s first bonafide masterpiece.

The film is set around the friendship of Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun), a young girl in Korea who, along wither grandfather, care for a super piglet named Okja. The super piglet is one of several, raised by the Mirando corporation as a cure for global starvation; the idea is that each is raised in a different part of the world, on different diets and in different surroundings. The one who is the best after a decade is the one unveiled to the world.

Mirando is headed by Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton), who cares about the world, the poor, her investment in the super piglets. But most importantly, she cares that they “taste fucking good”. When Okja is inevitably chosen as the best beast, and taken to New York, it’s up to Mija to bring her best friend home.

With a great supporting cast, including Paul Dano as the leader of the Animal Liberation Front and Jake Gyllenhaal as a tv personality with something of a personality disorder, if half these actors put in half the effort, it was always going to be memorable. Thankfully no one puts in less than a film of this magnitude deserves, but there is a not so secret weapon.

Okja herself.

Most CG characters, especially those built to draw emotional responses, are given the Dreamworks treatment of having massive, over bearing eyes. Okja does not, but hers have more depth than you can imagine. You will find yourself falling in love with the gentle giant from the first moment she graces the screen. There are endearing flashes of flatulence, and you cannot fault the work that Seo-hyun brings to the screen with her fake friend.

What Bong manages to get from his ensemble cast, not to mention his young star, is impeccable. We’ve seen his creature feature exploits with The Host, but this is a completely different kettle of fish. It could sell itself as a family friendly feature, were it not for the swearing. But maybe these kinds of films shouldn’t just be aimed at the younger audience. Maybe the older generation can find warmth in a film targeted at them.

Sure, there are the undertones of capitalism and everything that’s wrong with the fake love that these companies show for the world, and we shouldn’t take away from this, it’s integral to the plot, and your reaction to the movie. But you will find your heart overflowing at times watching this film, thanks to one little super piglet.

Not since Babe has a pig had this much of an impact on the big screen; yet here we have the massive Okja on the small screen, accessible to everyone. Fall in love with her, you deserve it.

Okja is released on Netflix worldwide on June 28th


Chris Droney