Okja (Film) Review

Searching for that one friend in a million
There will be no film review next Monday because my beloved is on holiday and deserves a lovely break.

I have lots of post ideas under my belt though so have no fear about missing out on my fascinating updates, they will be coming in thick and fast. Or they’ll be coming, I suppose I shouldn’t promise the world with no idea if I can deliver.

Anyway, I wanted to review (in the loosest sense of the word) a film that’s just appeared on Netflix, one I’ve been looking forward to since I saw the first trailer. I’ll steer clear of spoilers as much as possible since it is brand new and I want you to watch it.

Without further fucking about.

Okja (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

Meet Mija, a young girl who risks everything to prevent a powerful, multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend – a massive animal named Okja.

*All the feels*

My Review

Before we start I feel like a disclaimer should be applied. Not to patronise anyone but this film near killed me emotionally and I thought it was worth a mention. Sure, I watched it under a blanket with a stuffed Hello Kitty (dressed as Wonder Woman) under one arm and a bar of chocolate under the other – my lower sadness level – but still. Prepare to be traumatised.

It also takes some dark turns that I hadn’t expected (but should of, given the director) so there’s that too. My BFF David said he took one look at the preview and knew he couldn’t do it. Which I respect.

Mija is a young girl living in the mountains in Korea. She lives a simple and lovely life with her grandfather and their giant Superpig, Okja. Oh, you want a little background about Okja, do you? Fine.

Okja isn’t just any old family pet. She belongs to the Mirando Corporation, a huge global giant with a controversial past. New CEO, Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) is determined to change the image of the company with a socially conscious rebrand and the answer is obvious – SUPERPIGS. (Isn’t it always?).

As part of this massive project, Mirando have been breeding pigs (bigger, better GM-super food Superpigs for the consumption of the masses) and have dispatched twenty-six of their best piglets to twenty-six locations across the globe. These little beauties will be reared naturally and lovingly by expert farmers for the next ten years – until the ultimate Superpig can be crowned the winner (and their meat can go on sale to the public).

Don’t be mean to the piggies, Tilda
Our heroines therefore have been inseparable since they were babes in the wood and now they literally are just two BFF babes in the wood, frolicking in streams and napping under fruit trees. Until one day, a decade later, Mirando comes knocking again.

The threat comes in the form of TV zoologist Dr Johnny (Jake Gyllenhaal), the face of The Mirando Corp who has, along with the rest of his team, been keeping close tabs on all the pigs across the world. When he claps eyes on Okja though he’s blown away, declares her the hands-down winner and thus begins Okja’s Big Adventure.

While grandpa is resigned to Okja’s future, Mija is not prepared to let it slide. Girl’s gonna fight for her best friend, innit? So she sets off to Seoul (Okja’s first stop) where she falls in with Paul Dano and the Animal Liberation Front and inadvertently becomes part of a much bigger plan to take on Mirando and reveal the sinister truth behind the piggies.

*Boo hiss* Motherfucker!
Mirando (but of course) are not all they appear to be and public relations take a knocking when the ALF gets involved. Lucy’s place at the top becomes precarious while her team pander to every childlike wobble. With her sister, former CEO Nancy (also Swinton) secretly sniffing around, it doesn’t look like she’ll be ruling for long.

Meanwhile, ALF uncover all manner of horrible goings on behind the public face of the company. When Lucy decides to send Mija to NYC to be reunited with Okja, Dano and friends follow and it becomes a mad dash to save the best damn pig I’ve ever seen in my life.

Can they get there before Okja is lost forever – and will true love out?

Leave Okja ALONE!

My Thoughts

This is an odd little movie that I love a lot. It made me feel everything and some of the scenes are so beautiful I can’t get them out of my head. If this is your sort of thing then you’ll be as invested as I in the relationship between little girl and beast.

Ultimately, all that matters here is the friendship between two living creatures and honestly, all I wanted was a peaceful resolution. Whether than happens is for you to find out.

Meanwhile, most performances are spot on. Swinton nails both Mirando sisters with ease. If you’ve seen 2013’s Snowpiercer then you’ve had a flavour of what you get here.

Other standouts are Seo-Hyuan Ahn as Mija, who’s all kinds of amazing in her pursuit of what’s right. I also had time for the ALF, especially K (Steven Yeun). I was worried this film would be very white washed and perhaps it is but I thought its blend of Eastern and Western culture wasn’t too bad.

There are lots of comments here about the state of the world and our mass consumption. At times I felt it was asking me to consider where my fulfilment comes from and at what cost. It’s hard to watch this film when you’re invested in an animal with a rounded personality that loves and is loved, you know?

Okja gives you food for thought, is beautiful, touching and stressful as heck. I recommend it. And honestly, from the start your only concern will be the pig. 🐷 

Have you seen Okja? If so, what are your thoughts?

Ps. We’ll be reviewing Okja on All Out of Bubblegum in the next few weeks, so watch out for that. 

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