Originally Published on Salty Popcorn
The meat industry has a bad reputation. You have to be careful where your food comes from. This is the basis upon which OKJA takes its main inspiration. Ten years ago, Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) and Frank Dawson (Giancarlo Esposito) decided to send out a handful of “super pigs” to farmers all throughout the globe, where they were to be raised and fattened for a competition. Whoever raises the best pig goes home with fame and glory. Cut forward to the present day. Mija (Seo-Hyun Ahn) is living with her grandfather in South Korea, raising one of the super pigs, Okja, and when TV host Dr. Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal) stumbles into their home, they discover they’ve won the competition.
This film is nuts. It’s a wholly original movie experience that’s part comedy, part adventure, part drama, and all crazy. Bong Joon Ho has always had a very political voice weaved into his movies and OKJA is no exception. His pro-vegan storyline takes the audience on a cross-country adventure into the terror and cruelty found within the meat industry. The message is loud and clear, completely devoid of subtlety, but the journey is so worthwhile. Of all the Netflix original movies released so far, you won’t find anything remotely as entertaining as OKJA.
Bong Joon Ho’s script opens with an upbeat, laugh out loud funny scene that’s used predominantly for exposition purposes, but I loved every second of it. It’s tonally perfect and sets the vibe for what’s to come. From here, we’re taken into the jungle, kind of. We transport to South Korea, and that’s where the story really kicks into gear. Okja is introduced through a lengthy, slightly too-long of an introduction. What this introduction does bring with it though is lovability in its super pig main character. She’s big, fat, ugly and adorable, saving lives and looking out for our hero’s best needs. You feel the love between Okja and Mija, and when their world is torn apart, it hits you right in the heart.
Tilda Swinton needs all the awards she can possibly get. Swinton never fails to deliver, and in similar fashion to another Boon Jong Ho film, SNOWPIERCER, she’s absolutely off the chain here. While it’s only in the opening scene, a braces-wearing Swinton is a sight to behold, and every moment she’s on screen is utterly fabulous. Also brilliant is little thirteen-year-old Seo-Hyun Ahn, whose adorable nature and love for her best friend carries the heart and soul of this movie. A scene towards the end of the film brought tears to my eyes, moving me beyond belief while shattering my heart into a thousand pieces.
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