Sunday, July 16, 2017

Okja (2017)

Director: Joon-ho Bong
Writers: Joon-ho Bong, Jon Ronson
DOP: Darius Khondji
Cast: Ahn Seo-hyun, Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Jake Gyllenhaal
Language: English, Korean

The film begins with the launch of a super pig competition by the multinational food company 'Miranda Corporation' led by Tilda Swinton. Competition involves sending out 26 super baby pigs to different parts of the world and judging them after ten years. One of those pigs is Okja, raised in Korean mountains by Mija. Film follows the story ten years later as the company is trying to take away Okja back to United States for its competition's finale.

Director's previous English language film 'Snowpiercer' was a surprise hit where Tilda Swinton played a very hammy character. She continues in the same mould in this one as well and there is Jake Gyllenhaal giving her company by taking it to 11. Film takes a while to get going as there is a thirty minutes or so of setup to show the relationship between Okja and Mija. The CGIed super pig is convincing. Things starts get going when Mija reaches Seoul after the company takes her pig away. We are also introduced to the hilarious animal rights activists led by Paul Dano's character. The film takes several tonal shifts throughout  and quite successfully. Comedy in it works very well and the ending portion of the film could come off as Vegan propaganda. I wouldn't strictly call it that as it is more about the practices of Monsanto like companies rather than being a Vegan advocacy film. For many people, animal rights begin and ends with their pets. In India it is largely restricted to the rights of Cows for so-called religious/Muslim baiting reasons and of Stray dogs because some people take man's best friend title too seriously. The film also end in that vein with Mija being concerned only about her pet Okja

It is a great watch overall and I enjoyed it even more than Snowpiercer. I had recently viewed 'The Bad Batch' through the Vegetarian prism and it can be put as a counter-piece to Okja. Okja was produced and released by Netflix and it created controversy at the Cannes where it premiered. People at the Cannes have decided to not admit films that don't have a sufficient theatrical release window from next year. I think its a shame as studios are largely restricting themselves to the franchise model of shitty reboots, sequels and prequels and alternate means like Netflix are funding original films these days.

Rating: 4/5