|Directed by||Bong Joon-ho|
|Starring||Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Ahn Seo-hyun, Byun Hee-bong, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins, Yoon Je-moon, Choi Woo-shik, Daniel Henshall, Devon Bostick, Shirley Henderson, Jake Gyllenhaal|
|Released on||May 19, 2017 (Cannes), June 28, 2017 (United States), June 29,2017 (South Korea)|
Okja is one of those films that you can’t afford to miss. It’s like E.T but in 2018. Directed by Bong Joon-ho (he’s already being compared to Steven Spielberg), the movie will make you feel so strongly it will be impossible not to fall in love.
The film is about a super-pig “Okja” who is genetically engineered to be the perfect food. It is set in the near future where the world’s population is at about 8 billion. A bigger population means more mouths to feed. This is where the so called super-pigs come in. They’ve been made in a laboratory to consume less excrete less, leave the smallest footprint on the planet. They’re mutated to be as eco-friendly as possible. But, they’re marketed as completely natural and healthy food to the masses, which we learn from a slightly manic Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) in her extremely fabricated presentation at the beginning of the movie.
All the baby super-pigs are sent to various local-farmers around the world who are instructed to raise them according to their cultures. They will be monitored constantly and ten years later, the best super-pig will be chosen in a beauty pageant of sorts and brought to New York City to be shown off to the masses and eventually made into food. They’ve got to taste ‘fucking good’ as Lucy so eloquently says in the opening scenes.
Well, ten years is a long time and Okja grows up with a human companion in the Eden-like paradise of Seoul. Mija and Okja are friends and we’re given proof in abundance exactly how close they are. As they frolic through the stunning mountains of Seoul, we learn what Okja really is.
There is a scene where we see exactly how devoted she is to Mija. She’s not just a pig. When Mija is dangling off a mountain edge, Okja sacrifices herself to save her. Both of them end up fine, but nevertheless, Okja has a soul. The pig is designed to make you feel. Okja’s baleful expression and human-like eyes are windows to her character and you will develop a fierce need to protect her very quickly.
When the time comes and people come to take Okja back to New York City, Mija’s grandpa attempts to distract her to no avail. When Mija learns her best friend in the world is gone she is furious. Here’s where we see her character develop. Before Okja is taken she feels like an innocent, carefree child with not much care in the world. But after, it’s like she flips a switch. Mija is not dumb, she’s not just some kid who mindlessly loves her pet. Her love is fierce and her connection with Okja will shake you. As she runs to save her super-pig, we see exactly how cool she is.
An organization called the A.L.F. (Animal Liberation Front) helps her rescue Okja from a truck in Seoul when they were trying to send Okja to New York. They’re a zero-violence organization. That’s their credo, they don’t harm anyone and they’ve been freeing animals for forty years. But they are another extreme. Turns out, they want to send her to Mirando’s lab for footage so that they can stop her altogether. Although the head of the A.L.F., Jay (Paul Dano) may be honorable and will not send Okja without Mija’s consent, the other members of the A.L.F. aren’t so pure, they will not stop because of a young girl’s consent to take their mission forward. A fact that is proved when the translator says Mija’s given her consent when she said she wanted to take Okja back to the mountains in Korean.
As the movie unfolds you will watch with bated breath at how cruel the Mirando corporation is and the horrors that unfold in the lab where Okja is taken. The movie is disturbing at times, but it does have a 16+ age rating on Netflix, it’s not meant to be a kid’s fairy-tale concoction. Okja tries to throw the reality of the world in our faces. It shows how we do not treasure innocence and how we destroy everything.
Hats off the the CGI team for the film. Okja is seamless, she’s gorgeous. You can even watch Okja pooping and feel fondness. She’s adorable. Whether she’s skipping among the mountains or it’s a high-speed chase in the streets or the underground subway, she is flawless.
There are parallels to the classic E.T. In both the movies we watch how scientists want to run experiments on these beings. They see E.T. as nothing more than a discovery and Okja as nothing more than food. Both the films are intricate and beautifully written. Okja will keep you at the edge of your seat for it’s entire running time. Prepare yourself. It’s a must see.
Video Credits – Netflix | YouTube