I went into the Netflix Original film Okja with no idea what to expect. The title gave nothing away, but I’d seen it trending on social media and had to see what the fuss was about. I was very pleasantly surprised. Its all-star cast including Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Lily Collins and Steven Yeun boded well from the outset, and it turns out the whole cast give great performances, including the brilliant lead actress, 13-year-old Ahn Seo-hyun.
The film follows a young girl called Mija, whose grandfather is a farmer designated to look after one of 26 ‘superpigs’ by Mirando Corporation. She has spent her childhood alongside the animal, which she has named Okja, and they spend every day together. However, they become separated from the pig when Mirando Corporation take her away, which causes Mija to do everything she can do get Okja back. She runs into the Animal Liberation front, who hatch a plan to stop the more sinister side of Mirando Corporation’s plans for the superpigs.
Okja makes for dark, uncomfortable viewing at times, but packs a punch with its overall message as a result. It creates a dystopian future of humans trying to find a way to keep the meat industry thriving, but makes it very uncomfortable and highlights the horrors of the industry vividly. The Animal Liberation Front are vegetarian activists, and their role in the film helps to portray the message, through humour but also a very strong belief in what they stand for, which the viewer will find themselves rooting for. Also, the relationship between Mija and Okja, and as a result our attachment to Okja, and the superpigs, is very real and emotional and makes the uncomfortable scenes far more hard-hitting.
I’ve mentioned before in my reviews how much I love a good-looking film. Okja surpasses all my hopes. The CGI on Okja, the superpigs and in general throughout the film is sensational. It’s hard to believe these creatures don’t actually exist. The scenes shot in South Korea are vibrant and beautiful, and juxtapose greatly with the grey, urban New York. Here are some examples of how good Okja looks:
Weird to look at at first, but this wears off in moments in the heart-warming opening scenes. You will soon fall in love with the characters, the film, and most of all, Okja herself.
It’s a genius film, with a very clever twist on a topic that is very relevant in today’s society. Everything about it is very well done, and every second is enjoyable. You will be shocked, upset, thrilled, and jumping out of your seat during Okja, and when a film can make you do all that, you know it’s good.