OKJA

Piggy in the mid­dle

SFX - - Reviews - James Mot­tram

RE­LEASED 28 JUNE 2017 | SVOD

Di­rec­tor Bong Joon-ho Cast Ahn Seo-hyun, Jake Gyl­len­haal, Tilda Swin­ton, Paul Dano, Lily Collins

Af­ter the apoc­a­lyp­tic train-ride of Snow­piercer, South Korea’s Bong Joon-ho re­turns with Okja, a sim­i­larly starry and su­perbly ex­e­cuted piece about con­sumerism, cor­po­rate greed and a child’s love for her pig. No, this is not a Korean Babe; in­stead, as the break­neck in­tro ex­plains, it’s the tale of su­per-porcines bred in lab­o­ra­to­ries to com­bat grow­ing food short­ages.

One such spec­i­men is the hippo-sized Okja, reared high in the moun­tains by lit­tle Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun). When Jake Gyl­len­haal’s un­hinged Dr Johnny comes to take Okja back to New York for a PR stunt, driven by Tilda Swin­ton’s ruth­less CEO, Mija is de­ter­mined to re­trieve her beloved pet. Help­ing her are some An­i­mal Lib­er­a­tion Front rad­i­cals led by Paul Dano and Lily Collins.

Beau­ti­fully imag­ined by ef­fects ge­nius Erik De Boer (re­spon­si­ble for the tiger in Life Of Pi), Okja and his fel­low pork­ers are so life­like you’ll want to take one home with you. Scenes with Okja and Mija play­ing to­gether, charg­ing through the un­der­growth or a Korean mall, are bril­liantly re­alised.

Some of the per­for­mances may grate, in par­tic­u­lar Gyl­len­haal’s shrill turn, which feels like a mis­step. But the comic-book tone ul­ti­mately gives way to some­thing more pure; pro-an­i­mal, the fi­nale is heart-melt­ing.

Okja was de­signed by con­cep­tual artist Hee Chul Jang, who pre­vi­ously de­signed the mon­ster from Bong’s The Host.

A race against time to save the one you love! Think Taken, but with a pig.

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