In the near future there's shortage of food on the planet. A solution comes in the form of Okja - a genetically modified pig who is raised in the Korean mountains, far from civilisation. There Okja befriends Mija, a young girl who becomes Okja’s only family. The idyllic life in the mountains abruptly ends when the company men, who own Okja, come back for their trophy. As Okja is kidnapped Mija follows her to Seoul and then to New York. In her quest to bring Okja home, she will stop at nothing, even making a deal with “the devil”.
OKJA was the first Netflix movie that competed for the Palme D’Or at Cannes this year and it’s no wonder that it had the ambition to do so. With its Disney cutesy-pie premise it does not flinch from showing the dark side of life. This is definitely not a family type movie, with many gory and unsettling moments. In fact OKJA is one of those few movies that does not clearly define its target audience. How very Korean of it!
I have been a champion of Korean cinema for more than a decade now and OKJA is proof that an unusual movie can get a world-wide appreciation. OKJA does not pretend for a second that it is there for more than to entertain, but when the choice comes between another action set piece or dramatic element, it always chooses the latter. The director Bong Joon Ho is a household name in Korea. His monster movie “THE HOST” made a big splash all around the world, allowing him to shoot a blockbuster “THE SNOWPIERCER”, a post apocalyptic thriller with Chris Evans, Ed Harris and Tilda Swinton. His films were always a combinations of genres, allowing for unique storytelling. OKJA is no exception.
The movie boasts some great performances. The focus is on Tilda Swinton as a CEO of a conglomerate corporation who is trying to suppress her psychotic tendencies, but by doing so only making things worse for the world, and Jake Gyllenhaal is unrecognisable as an evil Steve Irwin type of animal lover celebrity. They both are a pleasure to watch.
With its sensitive subject matter the movie never falters, always keeping the balance of scary, dramatic, cute and sad. In the the age of superhero movies, it is refreshing to see a film, where the protagonist is not trying to save the world, but one life instead. OKJA manages to ask big questions without compromising on action, drama and adventure. And this is what makes it a worthy movie experience.