‘Okja’ Movie Review: A Passionate Pig Tale

Okja star An Seo Hyun
An Seo Hyun stars in Netflix’s ‘Okja’

Okja the super pig is stolen from a young South Korean girl by a corrupt, money-grubbing corporation led by a narcissistic, entitled white woman in Netflix’s riveting dramatic film, Okja. Debuting on June 28, 2017, Okja star 13-year-old South Korean actress An Seo Hyun is an incredible performer, a mesmerizing actress capable of commanding the big screen and evoking a wide range of emotions while working with very limited dialogue. If you don’t want to hug her, adopt her, or make her your best friend by the end of Okja, you’re a heartless human being.

Bong Joon Ho (The Host, Snowpiercer) has created yet another uncompromising, timely, and complicated film, this time addressing a myriad of topics including the meat industry, capitalism, entitlement, and our relationship with animals. The title character is a CG creation, however one so brilliantly brought to life that it’s easy to imagine this dog-like pig is a beloved family pet and the best friend of a young girl named Mija who doesn’t have many human companions to rely on.

It’s the love of a little girl for a pig she raised from a tiny piglet that powers Okja. The film follows Mija as she attempts to rescue her best friend after the evil Mirando Corporation determines Mija’s pig is the best of all the genetically-altered super pigs in existence. Okja is chosen to represent the breeding program and basically stolen from Mija and her idyllic existence and brought to America to be put on display. The relentless, determined Mija tracks down Okja, refusing to give up on the return of her pig even against all odds.

Okja’s journey to America involves a game-changing encounter with animal activists played by Paul Dano (Swiss Army Man), Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead), Devon Bostick (The 100), and Lily Collins (The Last Tycoon). Mija and Okja also have multiple run-ins with Dr. Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal), a mentally unstable animal TV show personality who’s a spokesperson for the Mirando Corporation. However, ultimately it’s the mercurial head of Mirando Corp, Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton), and her ruthless sister, Nancy (also played by Tilda Swinton), who hold Okja’s fate in their hands.

Of course, writer/director Bong Joon Ho addresses animals as food and how a pig goes from squealing one minute to a dinner table the next in this unforgettable tale. But that’s not the film’s sole purpose, even as it spends an uncomfortable though short span of time focusing on exactly how meat is processed and made ready for grocery stores. Corporate greed and the idea of an American company believing it’s entitled to steal what it desires are the constant threads flowing through Okja’s story.

The supporting cast is fantastic, the CG is flawless, and Okja’s beautifully shot. Bong Joon Ho mixes comedy, adrenaline-pumping action, and the occasional heartbreaking moments to draw in the audience, even spooning in a little slapstick humor where it’s least expected. Boon Joon Ho’s Okja makes us think while providing two hours of entertainment. It’s a wonderful, profound film and the friendship between Mija and her pet pig is truly inspirational.


Running Time: 118 minutes

Release Date: June 28, 2017