Bong Joon-ho (2017)

15 Certificate


Our Score
This $50m Netflix original was the streaming service's first feature to compete at Cannes. A bold but uneven cocktail of Gilliam-esque dystopian satire and the sort of girl-befriends-mythical-beast parable that could have been visualised by Studio Ghibli, Okja forfeits its potential as a thoughtful, action-packed children's fantasy in favour of scattershot swearing and brutal violence. The story, co-scripted by South Korean director Bong Joon-ho (The Host) with witty British author Jon Ronson (Frank), revolves around hybrid, hippo-sized "super pigs" bred by a venal US corporation. One of them, the gentle, galumphing sow Okja (impressively created through puppetry and CGI by Life of Pi FX wizard Erik-Jan De Boer), has peacefully bonded with farmer's granddaughter Mija (An Seo-hyun) and when earmarked for culling becomes a cause célèbre for Paul Dano's comically pacifist liberationists. Bong contrasts verdant South Korean hills with claustrophobic New York streets, where a sequence of set-piece chases (one through a crowded shopping arcade) is thrillingly staged. The humour pinwheels from scatological to satirical to farcical (the activists repel armed guards with umbrellas), while Jake Gyllenhaal's shriekingly camp TV zoologist and Tilda Swinton's hysterical CEO compete for overacting honours. However, with a heartbreaking sense of melancholy that will move any animal lover, Okja may ultimately be read as expensive vegan propaganda.

Cast & Crew

Lucy Mirando Tilda Swinton
Dr Johnny Wilcox Jake Gyllenhaal
Mija Ahn Seo-hyun
Jay Paul Dano
Red Lily Collins
K Steven Yeun
Jennifer Shirley Henderson
Frank Dawson Giancarlo Esposito
Silver Devon Bostick
Heebong Byun Hee-bong
Director Bong Joon-ho
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Other Information

Language: English / KoreanColourTheatrical distributor: NETFLIXGuidance: Swearing.Released on: 28 Jun 2017