Starring Ahn Seo-Hyun, Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano
Directed by Bong Joon-Ho
The latest by Bong Joon-ho, the Korean auteur behind the classic monster romp The Host, is yet another creature feature, albeit one that’s, for the most part, kinder and gentler, and poignant.
Okja, which premiered last month at the Cannes Film Fest and will debut on Netflix this Wednesday (June 28), is about the sweet friendship between Mija, a young farm gal (Ahn Seo-Hyun) and the eponymous beast which happens to be this ginormous, genetically-engineered livestock.
Designed by Jang Heui-cheol, who was responsible for the slimy aquatic ogre in The Host, and brought to life by Erik De Boer, one of the wizards behind the virtual tiger in Life of Pi, Okja looks like a cross between a pig, a rabbit, a hippo and a manatee.
She’s extremely adorable and, most importantly, according to her corporate owner (Tilda Swinton as the Wall Street version of Cruella De Vil), tasty. Go ahead, say it: Okja is #JurassicPork.
But one girl’s beloved pet is another lady’s patented product. So when Okja is returned to her owners, Mija races against the time to save her from being turned into someone else’s English breakfast.
During this journey, she encounters assorted kooky characters, including Jake Gyllenhaal’s goofy but morally corrupt scientist and Paul Dano’s devoted suit-clad eco-terrorist.
With Okja, Bong has made a different kind of monster movie, one in which the humans are the scary monsters. And where else to make that statement than to have the last 20 minutes set in a meat factory. Those grisly scenes are the toughest to sit through, and Bong shot them as if they were in a WWII concentration camp.
Bong has said in interviews that he has cut down on meat consumption, and “gradually becoming a pescatarian” after making Okja. Chances are, you too may re-evaluate your dietary choices after watching it. On Netflix (****)