Starring: Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Seo-Hyun Ahn, Giancarlo Esposito, Jake Gyllenhaal
Directed by: Joon-ho Bong
Written by: Jon Ronson, Joon-ho Bong
Rating: TV-MA Running Time: 1 hr 58 min.
Okja is about sides taken in an ecological battle for hearts and minds. The movie pits corporate profit mongering against marketing chicanery, as the wealthy elite battle folks that take their green-credo to unhealthy levels. There is conflict abound in this movie, and at the center of this ideological tug of war is a young girl and her best friend; a genetically created super-pig.
There’s nothing particularly ambiguous about Joon-ho Bong’s approach here, and the film’s message should register loud and clear with most people. Whether this reaches and teaches however, is another story entirely. I doubt your average carnivore will say goodbye to bacon sandwiches because a nicely rendered CGI super-pig had a cute personality.
Okja is a good film, and when it’s allowed to settle on the friendship at the center of the story, it shines. We’re treated to some great moments of humor and the action is cleverly arranged. Joon-ho Bong’s penchant for neat visual ideas is also evident, and always appreciated.
In the end however, this film is let down by being a little too on the nose with its messaging, bordering on preachy. It also features a couple of bizarre over the top performances from Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal. Okja’s occasional pacing problems and odd leaps in logic are also a minor distraction.
If you’re a fan of Joon-ho Bong’s work, I think you’ll enjoy this. Expect an uneven blend of humor, drama, and violence.
I really enjoyed the opening 10-15 minutes with Mija and Okja in South Korea.