The following review is spoiler free!
Netflix has become a titan of the entertainment industry. Hollywood heavyweights, from Brad Pitt to Will Smith, have been flocking towards the distribution service for everything from original TV shows to high-budget feature films. The latest major motion-picture release to be given the Netflix treatment is Joon-Ho Bong’s Okja.
Okja focuses on the story of Mija (Seo-Hyun Ahn), a young girl who has been raising a genetically modified super-pig named Okja. These pigs have been created by the Mirando Corporation as a solution to global hunger due to rising populations.
The CEO of Mirando, Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) recognizes that individuals might be turned off by the thought of a genetically modified food source, so she sends the pigs around the world to be raised in a natural environment, all leading to a televised competition event announcing the “best” super-pig. This is only the beginning of this bizarre cinematic adventure.
Okja features a mixture of Hollywood heavyweights and unknowns. The cast includes Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Giancarlo Espositio, Lily Collins, Steven Yeun, and Paul Dano.
Bong explores the world of corporate greed through the lens of the evolving food industry. Make no mistake Okja is not for everyone. This movie can feel overwhelming at times because of its visual styling and relentless moral messages, but it’s clear that Bong isn’t afraid to challenge audiences with what he is creating for the screen.
The performances in Okja are unsettling yet exceptional. Gyllenhaal plays Johnny Wilcox, a zoologist paid to judge the super-pig competition, his performance, as Wilcox is over-the-top, outlandish and offbeat. Paul Dano continues to show why he is one of the most talented younger actors in Hollywood today and as expected, Swinton is magnificent.
Okja is an experimental but beautiful film. With Netflix audiences can hit play and test the waters, it’s worth the risk.