Film · Film Review

Film Review: Okja (2017)

In Okja, a gentle giant and the girl who raised her are caught in the crossfire between animal activism, corporate greed and scientific ethics. (Netflix) Read my review…


For a blissful decade, Mija (Seo-Hyun Ahnhas been a caretaker and in turn become best friends with Okja – a massive ‘super’ pig – in the mountains of South Korea. But when a narcissistic CEO of a multinational conglomerate called Mirando Corporation comes to take back Okja to use her for a marketing campaign, Mija has no choice but to drop everything and set out on a rescue mission. Check out the trailer.

Let’s begin with Mija. Seo-Hyun Ahn’s performance is amazing. She is great with her adorable connection with Okja and she is fierce while chasing Okja over to the other side of the world. She perfectly shows the layers to how deep her connection with Okja is. All the other performances are great too; from Paul Dano’s seething under the surface leader of the Animal Liberation Front Jay to Jake Gyllenhaal’s screechingly over the top Dr. Johnny Wilcox. Oh and also(!), Tilda Swinton (Lucy, CEO of Mirando corporation) is a gift to mankind. Some may say that Lucy’s issues or Johnny’s ‘playing it up for tv’ persona is all too shallow in terms of character development. But I argue that this superficiality is in line with the theme of the movie.

Okja is a very poignant commentary on the superficiality of the big greedy corporation and a strong condemnation of the food industry. But at the same time, it also has a lot to say about the surrounding cottage industry of some of the animal activist organisations on the other side of this equation. Beyond that, Okja is a story about the innocent love between a girl and her best friend.

Getting back to the technical aspects of the movie itself, there is some absolutely gorgeous cinematography on display here. I would have never guessed how stunning South Korea is. Huge props to Darius Khondji for bringing this to the screen in a meaningful way. The CGI is absolutely flawless too. However, I can’t help but wonder whether I would feel differently had I watched this on the big screen. But then again, I am sure that was part of the consideration when deciding how much of the budget would be put aside for visual effects. And finally, the direction by Bong Joon Ho is absolutely brilliant. The movie goes from being a magical, Miyazaki-esque fable, to a horrifying skewering of mankind in the space of 30 minutes and you are hooked the whole way thanks to Bong Joon Ho’s direction. After Snowpiercer and now this, I have become a massive fan of him.

My only negative of the movie is that there were a couple of characters who were too cartoonish even for this movie. I won’t go into detail about these characters’ roles or behaviour but every time I watched them on screen, I just felt I was watching someone who was in a completely different movie.

Overall, Okja is a poignant look at the sad state of the food industry with great heart in its storytelling. There are many unexpectedly laugh out loud moments to bring relief in an otherwise gloomy and distressing movie. Bong Joon Ho knocks it out of the park once again and brings us a very heartwarming and entertaining movie that has a haunting and devastatingly peaceful ending.

My Score: 4.5/5 – Quite possibly Netflix’s first great movie.

You can watch Okja right now! And I hope you all do watch it. This is a movie that needs to be seen by all. If you have already seen it, what did you think? Or do you intend to watch it soon? Please share your thoughts in the comments below or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter and lelet’sontinue the conversation.

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Stay Awesome!


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