This is the future of Film. Auteur Director Bong Joon-Ho‘s latest effort Okja will be looked back upon as being groundbreaking and rightfully so.
Centering on a young South Korean countrygirl Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun) and her beloved superpig Okja, the Film is on one level is about the undying love between a girl and her pet, but on a larger scale a commentary about human consumption of animals and animal welfare.
Okja the superpig, is part of an experiment from the Mirando Corporation, led now by Lucy (Tilda Swinton) following her father’s death. She was created to be consumed for her high grade of meat and with 26 of the best superpigs being dispersed around the world, it was the original intention ten years later to return one eventual winner back to New York City to be crowned the winning pig.
Celebrity zoologist Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal) travels to South Korea and names Okja the winning pig. Seeing right through the Mirando Corporation’s motives and abusive treatment of these superpigs, a band of misfits, the Animal Liberation Front step-in to help protect Okja and bring her back to Mija. They must first however, bring her back to New York with a tracking device in order to expose the corporation’s cruel treatment of these animals. With the corporation under close scrutiny, Lucy devises a plan to reunite Mija and Okja on a public stage as damage repair, although it may be too late once things go horribly awry.
While the Film at once is a touching story about the unbreakable bond between child and pet, it at once is driven by action, suspense and the villainism of a comic book. We’ve never before seen anything quite like it and this is what makes it exciting. Visually, it is sleek and it moves in fluid motion and the CGI is a remarkable feat.
Tilda Swinton in a dual role as villainous twin sisters Lucy and Nancy Mirando is in fine form, capturing the former’s lost soul and eagerness to carry her father’s corporation’s legacy, while full of fire as the commanding and driven Nancy who enters the picture late. Similar can be said about an unrecognizable Jake Gyllenhaal as Dr. Johnny Wilcox, an over-the-top and abusive zoologist. Paul Dano as Animal Liberation Front leader Jay is a bit off-kilter, cast well as a misfit who is a walking contradiction as a violent animal activist.
13-year-old Ahn Seo-hyun makes her international debut in an understated performance as the grounding heart and soul of the story. We never give up wanting her reunion with Okja as the brutality and sense of urgency escalates.
While the Film becomes a bit uncomfortable at points to watch, it almost is necessary to communicate the message it sets out to tell. Okja is a gritty and emotional experience which conveniently can be consumed from your streaming device, but never forgotten as easily.
Netflix Canada release OKJA, streaming now.