Okja is Bong Joon-ho’s new film released through Netflix about new superpig called Okja, and its friendship with a young girl, Mija. The film is primarily focused on issues surrounding treatment of animals, particularly in the production of meat. Okja can be a little heavy handed with its message at times, but it actually comes across very strongly in places. The scenes of the superpigs in the hands of Mirando Corporation are very effecting. What is a little disappointing is that the film, for the briefest of moments, touches on the other side of the argument and mentions the levels of hunger in the world, and yet this gets pushed aside for the rest of the film because it doesn’t fit the anti-animal cruelty message of the film.
They young girl, Ahn Seo-hyun, who plays Mija is really the heart of the film. She, and the filmmakers, absolutely succeed in selling her friendship with Okja. You would absolutely believe that she would go to huge lengths to get this creature back, and that’s what helps you buy into some of the more ridiculous aspects of the film. A lot of the other performances are hammed up quite a lot, although no one as much as Jake Gyllenhaal. His performance is so over the top it becomes distracting and annoying in some of his scenes. Paul Dano as the head of the ALF comes across as overly earnest and it is actually Steven Yeun who is the more relatable figure.
Okja is a film that mostly works. It can be a little over the top and earnest, but thanks to Seo-hyun and the friendship her character shares with Okja it gets its message across well.