A Girl and Her Pig
Creativity reigns in Okja, another splendid movie by filmmaker Bong Joon Ho, who also gave us such unusual offerings as The Host and Snowpiercer. This time he focuses on the relationship between a girl and her very strange pet, a monstrous pig-like animal that’s been with her and her grandfather for ten years. Sadly, Mija (played by Seo-Hyun Ahn) had no idea that Okja really belongs to a multi-national corporation with plans to take her back for their nefarious purposes. And that means shipping the animal from South Korea to New York City for a big celebration and then – yikes! – turning Okja into a tasty food product. Naturally, animal lovers get involved with Mija in efforts to save Okja and help the two get back to their Korean home.
It’s greed, gluttony, manipulation and betrayal versus love, courage and concern for animals in this action-packed movie. So, of course, I was motivated to write another film poem.
“Okja! Okja!” Young Mija shouts
during one of their playful bouts.
Her creature friend? A super pig.
Okja is really, really big.
Okja it seems was engineered
to help food shortage that was feared.
But to Mija, she’s much, much more --.
a part of her family core.
When time comes for Okja’s demise
will Mija do something that’s wise?
Or will she be too late to save
Okja although she’s very brave?
Okja the film dazzles the eyes.
Scene after scene offers surprise.
But not for youngsters, I must state.
Vegetarians, too, should hesitate,
As a vegetarian myself, I found it hard to watch some of this film. Okja starts out with such beautiful, gentle scenes between Mija and her super pig as they play together in the mountains of South Korea. So when the movie goes to the dark side, it’s quite shocking. Sequences of animal abuse and slaughterhouse procedures almost made me physically ill.
Most of the actors deliver excellent performances here. Seo-hyun Ahn (The Housemaid) is lovely and compelling as Mija. Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood) projects genuine concern as the leader of A.L.F. (Animal Liberation Front), and Tilda Swinton (Hail, Ceasar!) goes a bit over the top (and it works!) -- as the twins who head the power hungry multi-national corporation. However, I wish Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) had turned down the role of a silly TV personality. He is such a wonderful actor, and this role doesn’t suit him at all.
Outrageous as the Okja plot may seem, it deals with important issues and makes us think-- not simply enjoy. It ends up being a movie that matters.
(Released by Netflix and rated TV-MA.)
For more information about Okja, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.