Okja is a Netflix original film, starring Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal and Paul Dano. Despite those huge names, the lead is Seo-Hyeon Ahn, who plays Mijo, a little girl who has raised a super pig named Okja for ten years. Little does she know that Okja is a part of a global experiment, and that after ten years every super pig will be collected to compete in a competition, and ultimately become meat.
That synopsis makes this seem like a movie that could easily have fallen flat on its face, and that’s true. But it’s made so well that it’s another example of a crazy idea that somehow works great, like The Lobster.
On that note, there is one striking difference between The Lobster and this, and it’s that The Lobster is an independent film that is able to create its own feel and tone, while Okja is a good movie that feels like that most independent film ever. The emphasis on being as scenic as possible, the soft soundtracks, the characters that serve singular purposes: they are all indicators of this.
However, that is not necessarily a complaint, because this story is told well, at a good pace and a good grip. Plus I am a huge fan of independent films. The relationship between Mijo and Okja is very believable, and for a young child to act with the air like she did, it takes exceptional talent. The CGI for Okja is surprisingly good, and she feels real.
Even the themes explored in this movie are relatable and elevate the narrative, adding depth to its characters and their relationships.
Having said that, there are noticeable flaws in this movie, and it goes beyond the independent movie cliches.
The only supporting character in this movie that I felt was solid was Paul Dano’s, who is the leader of the Animal Liberation Front. Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal were given questionable roles in this movie, especially the former, who has something going on with her that is entirely unnecessary to this movie and really takes away from it. It should be a self-contained film but it goes a little bit overboard with everything involved.
I also wasn’t a huge fan of the ending, but that’s just me.
That said, Okja is still well shot (such as Hunt For the Wilderpeople), decently written, mildly scored (like The Fundamentals of Caring) and is really up front with the message it’s trying to communicate (similar to Captain Fantastic). However, if I had to compare, I would say that all three movies I just mentioned are considerably better than this one.
On a scale where M is the lowest and R is the highest possible rating, with the highlighted letter being the rating: