Review: ‘Okja’ starring Tilda Swinton, Ahn Seo-hyun, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano
The first great film of 2017 has arrived. Okja is everything a movie should be.
The film will make you laugh, cry, and think.
For those of you who don’t know about Okja, it’s a new film from Netflix. To think that Netflix could have a film that could contend for an Oscar for Best Picture seemed a bit far fetched, til now.
Directed by Bong Joo-ho, Okja tells the story of a young girl and her pet super-pig. The movie stars Ahn Seo-hyun, Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Steven Yeun, and Lily Collins.
Okja starts in 2007, as Swinton’s character, a CEO of a powerful corporation, announces the discovery of a new pig-like creature that her company will breed and ship off to 26 corners of the world to live on farms.
Fast forward 10 years later, we find Okja frolicking through the South Korean mountain-tops with her keeper Mija, played by Seo-hyun. Mija is the granddaughter of one of the farmers chosen to care for the animal. Okja is Mija’s world. They are inseparable. As happy as the pair are, they are quickly separated when Gyllenhaal’s character, Dr. Johnny Wilcox comes to take Okja to New York. In virtually one second, Mija’s world is destroyed. She soon learns that Okja will be sent to slaughter. Rather than take the special gold pig her grandfather has purchased for her, she is determined to rescue her plus-size friend. It is here where the movie goes from happy-go lucky to an all to real look at our society as meat eaters.
The performances are nothing short of magnificent. Swinton is nearly unrecognizable as the CEO of the company wanting to slaughter Okja. As unrecognizable as Swinton is, she is equally unlikable as the arrogant and scamming CEO. I haven’t found a more hated character in film yet this year. Gyllenhaal continues to turn out great performances with his over-the-top portrayal of the maniacal Wilcox. Without giving too much away, his scenes with Okja are at times unbearable to watch, they are that shocking.
As much fun as Okja is in the first minutes of the film, it is even more gut-wrenching in the final minutes. I found myself in tears in the final moments of the film. Again, without spoiling the film, there’s a scene near the end where Okja and Mija are at the slaughterhouse among the other super-pigs. It’s one of the most heart wrenching scenes I’ve seen on film in quite sometime.
As an animal lover, I can say Okja is not for the faint of heart. While a made up tale, it’s all too real. There is little hope for the super-pigs in the film, just like pigs in real life, but don’t let that deter you from watching this brilliant film. Tell your friends so they can tell their friends, Okja is a great film. It’s a must-see for 2017.