I’ve been waiting quite a few months to see the Netflix Original film “Okja”. I’m a big fan of director Bong Joon Ho and the concept sounded really great. It didn’t disappoint. Original, funny, quirky and full of amazing performances.
Here is a quick synopsis:
“For 10 idyllic years, young MIJA (An Seo Hyun) has been caretaker and constant
companion to Okja—a massive animal and an even bigger friend—at her home in the mountains
of South Korea. But that changes when a family-owned multinational conglomerate Mirando
Corporation takes Okja for themselves and transports her to New York, where image obsessed
and self-promoting CEO LUCY MIRANDO (Tilda Swinton) has big plans for Mija’s dearest friend.
With no particular plan but single-minded in intent, Mija sets out on a rescue mission, but her
already daunting journey quickly becomes more complicated when she crosses paths with
disparate groups of capitalists, demonstrators and consumers, each battling to control the fate of
Okja…while all Mija wants to do is bring her friend home. Deftly blending genres, humor,
poignancy and drama, Bong Joon Ho (Snowpiercer, The Host) begins with the gentlest of
premises—the bond between man and animal—and ultimately creates a distinct and layered
vision of the world that addresses the animal inside us all.”
The film makes a strong statement about agendas. Whether it is a large corporation that is trying to change its image or an animal rights group trying to expose that company. They are all looking out for themselves. The only person who doesn’t have an agenda is young Mija, who just wants her beloved Okja back home. Both groups try to exploit her and the relationship she has with Okja.
Bong Joon Ho has established himself as a filmmaker of extraordinary talent and storytelling ability. He again displays those gifts with “Okja”. This is a story that could have been heavy handed and tedious. But, he has an uncanny knack of bringing humor and originality into almost every frame of the film. He especially knows how to let actors get far out there, without being…. “Too far out there”.
Tilda Swinton, as always, is amazing. She has a way of creating a character that is almost intoxicating. You just can’t take your eyes off of her. Paul Dano is creepy, yet empathetic as the leader of the animal rights group. But, the actor who really blew me away was Jake
Gyllenhaal as Dr. Johnny Wilcox. He steals almost every scene that he is in. It’s like seeing a cartoon character that is highly caffeinated come to life. One of the bolder things he has ever done.
At the heart of the story is the love that Okja and Mija have for each other. It’s very special and has a true honesty to it. I wish that I could tell you that this film is great for kids to see. But it is very much a movie for adults. There is quite a bit of language and some scenes in a slaughterhouse that are quite scary. Depending on your opinion of “bad words”, I would think that this movie is appropriate for anyone 15-years-old and above.
Netflix is doing a great job of allowing filmmakers to share their vision without the watchful eye of studio exec’s ruining the final result. “Okja” is a brilliant film on so many different levels and I hope we will get to see more movies like this in the future.