Major movie networks better watch out, ’cause Netflix is coming for them and their money. The popular streaming website’s latest release, Okja, is undoubtedly one of the best films I’ve seen this year. No exaggeration.
This movie’s brilliance could only be achieved through the combined efforts of its Korean director Bong Joon-ho (check out his other amazing film Memories of Murder), sound designer Jaeil Jung and its all-star cast who give the film the very best of their acting abilities.
Tilda Swinton gives an award-deserving performance as two wildly different–but equally evil–CEOs, Jake Gyllenhaal plays a character equal parts psychotic and peppy–you’ll want to punch him halfway through the film–and Paul Dano is the hero the world desperately needs. The greatest performance however, comes from thirteen year old Seo-Hyun Ahn as the movie’s main character.
The film revolves around a so-called “super-pig”, Okja, who is sent to live with a young girl, Mija, and her grandfather in the mountains of Korea in the hopes of making her the biggest super-pig yet.
After ten years, Okja is eventually reclaimed by the Mirando Corporation, the company that created super-pigs and profits from their meat. Okja’s kidnapping is fought by Mija, who has an unbelievable bond with the clever creature, and the ALF (Animal Liberation Front), who want nothing more than to get Okja and the rest of the super-pigs out of harm’s way.
Everyone in the film is constantly scheming and looking to do anything they can to achieve their goals, whether or not those goals are for the good of mankind or for the good of their wallets.
The movie doesn’t preach, it doesn’t have a specific agenda, it’s just telling a story that eerily mirrors the real world.
Overtaken by greed and a lust for money, the Mirando Corporation physically harm hundreds of people and blatantly lie to the consumers they’re feeding by the millions. Of course, even after their wrongdoings are revealed to the public, they receive no backlash and continue to thrive. Sound like any companies you know?
The ALF are able to spread the word about the super-pigs, but they wind up unable to rescue anyone, especially Okja. She is forcibly bred with other super-pigs (aka: raped) and suffers horrible atrocities which include getting meat samples taken from her while she’s alive.
While some could argue that this is understandable and she’s “just a pig”, Okja is no ordinary animal. She and Mija are shown to be unbelievably close, to the point where they can understand one another. This fact makes the harm that befalls Okja even more unsettling, because you truly care about this animal–just like Mija does.
One of the final scenes of the film is set inside of a meat processing plant, where all of the super-pigs are rounded up and thoughtlessly slaughtered. You see the carcasses of super-pigs hanging from the walls, their blood pooling onto the floors.
It’ll make you sick, but this facility is like hundreds of others, the only difference is that Okja is inside it–so you care. And when you see all of the super-pigs, crying in a large and dirty pen–piglets too–you’ll have to hold back tears.
By the time the film is over, you’ll have gone through a roller coaster of emotions, and you might need a few moments to collect yourself. Hell, I did.
After watching Okja, I was left with a horrible knot in my stomach and a sinking feeling that I would never be able to look at meat the same way again–I actually had to cancel my dinner plans because I felt so nauseous.
While not a vegan or vegetarian myself, this film managed to make me reconsider my dietary preferences like no other has–and I’ve watched Cowspiracy.
You should definitely take the time to watch Okja and see how it makes you feel about your food.