Piggy in the middle
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.